Review of Venice Carnival 2011, Italy

The Venice Carnival 2011 last from February 19 to March 8. The 2011 edition have the 19th century as its theme this year, with a rich program of shows, musical concerts, recitals and performances spread in the historic buildings, in the fields and in the streets, as well as in the theaters. Venice rediscovers in 2011 the “themed” soul of its great Carnival. Torn between romantic suggestions and turmoil of the Risorgimento, elegant in a frock coat and top hat or in a corset and crinolines.

The 2011 edition of the Venice Carnival revolve around the theme of “Nineteenth Century – from Senso to Sissi, the city of women”, a tribute to the Unification of Italy and to women. The suggestions were mainly two: the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the coincidence of Mardi Gras with March 8, Women’s Day. The references of the title are to the 1954 cinematic masterpiece by Luchino Visconti and to the Princess, icon of 19th century costume and elegance.

On the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, Venice pursues its seductive femininity in the references to the great nineteenth-century post-romantic heroines to whom the Carnival is dedicated, plays down the clashes between the Austrian officers and the very Italians of the Committees for the Unification of the Kingdom of Italy, marries again with the Venetians, in the city theaters and museums, in made up of concerts, theatrical performances, historical representations, great dances and film screenings.

The 2011 Carnival was extended by a weekend, and to close the event was a silent rowing boat regatta along the Grand Canal, which for the occasion was illuminated only by candlelight, a symbolic and suggestive gesture of reunion with the city. Furthermore, Ca’Vendramin Calergi, seat of the Venice Casino, opens up as one of the institutional venues of the Carnival.

Venice during the Carnival is spellbinding, with a historically rich mixture of performance and dining, and, of course, the magnificent costumes, including the extravagant masks for which Venice is so famous. If you have never had a romantic encounter in Venice, perhaps you have an opportunity to learn why countless generations of impassioned lovers have exclaimed that romance in Venice is the best romance there is. As every year there is great expectation for the Venetian festival, which always attracts a large number of tourists from all over Italy and the world for the occasion.

In the Carnival, the streets are filled with celebrants dressed in luxurious, festive garb; experiencing Venice during the Carnival is like stepping back in time, with no modern buildings to spoil the illusion. One can wander the streets, taking in the costumes and street performances, or attend an evening party, an opera or concert, in one of the palaces or hotels accustomed to hosting royalty.

Popular and exciting are also the Corteo delle Marie and the Flight of the Angel which celebrate the second weekend of Carnival, such as the Competition for the most beautiful mask in which costumed groups from all over the world participate, the Flight of the Eagle, the coronation of the Carnival Mary and the shows that close the party on Shrove Tuesday, in a riot of colors, applause, confetti and the grace and beauty of the girls protagonists.

The glamorous side of Carnival is that of the palace parties: stuccos, golds, velvets and candles, the experience is overwhelming and immersive: between food and perfumes couples of fairies and admirer, queens and courtiers, great leaders, doges, cardinals, comedians and dancers welcome guests who in a few minutes forget the era to which they belong.

All of an evening you might experience walking up the stairs of a candlelit palace, expecting Casanova to make his advances; enjoying cocktails over the glimmering Grand Canal, abandoning your senses to pleasure; all while revealing your true identity only to carefully chosen intimates. After all this extravagance perhaps your night is completed by a mysterious, romantic, moonlight tryst, leaving you entranced and breathless, ready to meet the whole experience again the following day.

Highlight events
Venice Carnival is one traditions with strong foundation in culture with the significance and beauty. The whole world also gathers every year around this time gaze on its grandeur. Every year, the Venice Carnival turns the city into a spectacular riot of pageantry, colour, musical performances, fireworks displays and glamorous Venetian balls. If you want to experience the exotic atmosphere of Venice at its best, carnival is the time to go.

The leitmotif of this year was the “Nineteenth Century”, poised between romanticism and the Risorgimento riots. The event was dedicated in particular to the nineteenth-century heroines of post-romanticism, thus taking up that festive air that the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy recalls everywhere.

The official opening is scheduled for February 19 in Piazza San Marco, inauguration with “Grand toast in Venice”, a joyful and elegant “cheers” “With which Venetians and tourists officially welcome the Carnival. This is how the dances in Piazzetta San Marco begin, on the notes of the most famous Brindiam! of the Italian opera, in a colorful party in which to intrigue with the tails and walking sticks of nineteenth-century elegance.

Venetian Festival on the Water
The feast of all Venetians, dedicated to citizens and guests of the lagoon city. The party is preceded by a water procession from Punta della Dogana with one hundred typical rowing boats, dressed “for Carnival”, and over five hundred rowers up to Rio de Cannaregio, waiting for the acclaimed “Svolo della Pantegana”, by the Coordination of the Rowers. Upon arrival of the boats, the food and wine stands open with the carnival delicacies par excellence: the very Venetian fritole and galani and the beloved salted cicheti, offered by AEPE

The Shows In the Gran Foyer Di San Marco
The Gran Foyer di San Marco was the theatrical machine that was set up in the center of the square to host the main shows of the Carnival, the traditional ones as well as the more innovative ones: from the “Flight of the angel” to the “Festa delle Marie”, from the “Most beautiful mask” to the shows of the commedia dell’arte.

Among the major events not to be missed there was the shows of the choreographic companies and the circus-theater shows with international artists, the parades and the numbers of the comic entertainers, the live music concerts, organized according to a busy program coordinated by DJs and radio hosts of national media partners.

Festa of the Marie
The traditional “Festa delle Marie” recalls the homage that the Doge brought annually to twelve beautiful and humble Venetian maidens, generously equipping them for marriage with doges jewels. The Festival, a unique moment to admire the costumes of the Venetian tradition, unfolds over several days. It opens with the procession of twelve Venetian girls selected in the previous weeks.

The pedestrian procession, accompanied by the costumed historical groups of the European Committee for Historical Reenactments and the Carnival associations, starts from San Pietro in Castello, along the Riva degli Schiavoni and arriving in Piazza San Marco, where the presentation of the “Marie “To citizenship. The award ceremony with the coronation of the winning “Maria” takes place on Shrove Tuesday, at the end of the water procession departing from San Giacomo dell’Orio and destination in Piazza San Marco. The Doge’s coronation of the sweetest and most graceful bridesmaid seals, in this edition, the day dedicated to Women’s Day.

Flight of the Angel
The “Flight of the Angel”, traditional reminiscence of the homage brought to the Doge, offers the exciting flight from the top of the bell tower of San Marco to the center of the square. From this edition, the young Venetian girl who was awarded the title of Maria del Carnevale in the previous year is coming down from the bell tower. Silvia Bianchini wins this honor.

Welcomed in the crowded parterre by the groups of historical re-enactments in costume, it dissolve the tension of the flight in the embrace of the Doge and the public, electrified by the scenographic show that always celebrates, even on national and international networks, the Carnival of Venice. The angel, protagonist of international glamor, wear a magnificent costume themed with the Carnival.

Historical reenactments
The historical re-enactments organized by the CERS (European Consortium of Historical Reenactments) offer the Carnival public the unique chance to see hundreds of costumes, organized and choreographed to recreate historical situations, in the topical moments of the festivals of the Venetian tradition: parades, groups and committees of welcome, pickets of honor, flag-wavers, street theatrical actions with an ancient flavor, such as the famous Bagordo.

The Most Beautiful Mask
One of the most anticipated events of the festival! On the day of Fat Sunday, March 6, the most beautiful masks of the Carnival parade on the stage of Piazza San Marco, entertained by worldly guests and artists. Colors, originality, beauty but also savoir faire and bearing of the mask was evaluated by a prestigious jury of professionals and celebrities.

This year the prize was doubled: alongside the “most beautiful mask” of the 2011 Carnival, the prize also be awarded to the best 19th century themed masquerade. The selections of the masks take place, again in Piazza San Marco, from Shrove Thursday 3 March to Saturday 5 March, in a riot of well-deserved celebrities for the most complex and original disguises.

Themed Dinners at the Casino
The Casino of Venice, whose headquarters is located in one of the most wonderful palaces overlooking the Grand Canal, the elegant Palazzo Cà Vendramin Calergi, was the location of the dramatized themed dinners, scheduled throughout the Carnival period. The spaces on the main floor of the building was set up with stages on which artistic and parodic performances of burlesque alternate, a nineteenth-century show by definition, in this context re-proposed by the best national and international artists for the guests of the precious dinners at the Casino.

Venice Open City
During the Carnival period, from February 26th to March 8th the city of Venice witness a collection of musical, theatrical and cultural appointments and events for Venetians and tourists. The commedia dell’arte and historical re-enactment shows was staged in the most frequented fields, together with widespread artistic performances, circus theater shows set up in the various districts by street artists, to create a different schedule every day of fun and surprise. A film festival dedicated to films with a carnival, Venetian and 19th-century setting was presented at the Casa del Cinema in Venice, with silent cinema screenings and live piano accompaniment, as well as unpublished documentaries on nineteenth-century Venice.

Special dramatized itineraries accompanied by actors lead the most curious and creative visitors to discover the hidden corners of the city and the secrets of Carnival, hidden in the streets with strange and mysterious names. A program of churches open also in the evening, for short concerts of contemporary and classical music, lead to the discovery of these unique places of worship at night. The main cultural events in the city, from museums to art galleries, participate in the spirit of Carnival, extending their opening hours on a few days to allow Venice guests, and Venetians themselves, a long day of visits and culture, too after dinner.

The Children’s Carnival
The children’s Carnival was particularly rich and varied this year. In the city, in Campo San Polo the afternoon animation develops with companies of actors and entertainers who make children play with the stories and masks of the Venetian Carnival, historical and otherwise. A large skating rink set up for the occasion allow kids and children to play and have fun on ice skates. On the mainland, the typical doubledecker London bus visit elementary schools to carry around the shows of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, puppeteers.

Flight of the Donkey
The parody of the “Flight of the Angel” takes place in Mestre. On the last Sunday of the Carnival in Piazza Ferretto the donkey Skardy of Pitura Freska flies, preceded by an acrobatic performance by the tightrope walker Andrea Loreni. Soundtrack of the event the rousing Argentine live rhythms of Patas Arriba.

Piazza Ferretto is filled with the inhabitants of Mestre and tourists for a party dedicated to families, to the joke without malice. The protagonist of the flight, from the top of the Tower of the square to mimic the most famous bell tower of San Marco from which the “angel” flies, was a very self-ironic musician who then play in the square, also animated by the presence of real donkeys for the enjoyment of all the public.

La Vogata del Silenzio
The wings on the “Nineteenth Century” Carnival lower with the great final show of the “Row of Silence”. A long procession of gondolas and rowing boats travel along the Grand Canal, from Rialto to the San Marco Basin, anticipated by the notes of a trumpet placed on the first boat, at the opening of the water procession. The Grand Canal was illuminated by pans and candles in order to recreate the nineteenth-century atmosphere, and upon arrival in the San Marco Basin hundreds of small paper balloons with candles was released into the air, to seal the departure of the Carnival, and the metaphorical entry into Lent.

A silent water procession in the Grand Canal illuminated for the occasion only by LED candles closes the Venice Carnival. Gondolas, followed by traditional rowing boats, cross the Grand Canal in the stretch between the Rialto Bridge and the San Marco Basin. An exceptional event also for the particular lighting of the houses and buildings overlooking the Grand Canal in the section concerned: the windows and the banks of water was illuminated only by LED lights.

Cultural Program
Cultural events that take place in theaters, museums and city institutes. The cultural review of the Venice Carnival 2011 puts the city on stage by opening the doors of palaces, libraries and archives, museums and music halls to hybrid, impromptu projects, suitable for the more brilliant and festive context than the atmosphere of the Carnival induces. A largely free or very popular programming with dozens of daily events that outline an artistically vital and exuberant city.

A schedule that is organized for the entire period of the event by connecting the cultural realities of the city, from the Civic Museums to the State Museum Center, including the independent private foundations in a precious calendar of events (concerts, conferences, exhibitions, theatrical and film reviews) on the theme of the Carnival, works that testify to the culture of art and crafts in Venice; iconographic itineraries focused on the arts also in places of the sacred; theatrical and comedy performances; fairy tales for children and theaters, as well as workshops of the art of craftsmanship.

History
The Carnival of Venice is an annual festival held in Venice, Italy. It is one of the best known and most popular carnivals in the world. The festival is world-famous for its elaborate masks. Its origins are very ancient: the first evidence dates back to a document of the Doge Vitale Falier of 1094, where there is talk of public entertainment and in which the word Carnival is mentioned for the first time.

The institution of the Carnival by the Venetian oligarchies is generally attributed to the need of the Serenissima, like what already happened in ancient Rome (see panem et circenses), to grant the population, especially the humblest social classes, a period dedicated entirely for fun and celebrations, during which Venetians and foreigners flocked throughout the city to party with wild music and dancing.

Through the anonymity that masks and costumes guaranteed, a sort of leveling of all social divisions was achieved and even the public derision of the authorities and the aristocracy was authorized. These concessions were widely tolerated and considered a providential outlet to the tensions and discontent that inevitably arose within the Republic of Venice, which placed strict limits on its citizens on issues such as common morality and public order.

The Modern Carnival
Only in 1979, the centuries-old tradition of the Venice Carnival officially rose from its ashes, thanks to the initiative and commitment of some citizens’ associations and the logistical and economic contribution of the Municipality of Venice, of the Teatro la Fenice., of the Venice Biennale and tourist boards.

Within a few editions, thanks also to the media visibility reserved for the event and the city, the Venice Carnival has returned to tracing the footsteps of the ancient event with great success, albeit in different ways and atmospheres.

The individual annual editions of this new Carnival have often been distinguished and dedicated to a basic theme, which inspires them for parties and surrounding cultural events. Some editions were also characterized by combinations and twinning with other Italian and European cities, thus providing further involvement of the event at an international level.

The current Carnival of Venice has become a great and spectacular tourist event, which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who flock to the city to participate in this festival considered unique for its history, atmosphere and masks.

The traditionally most important days of the Venetian Carnival are Shrove Thursday and Shrove Tuesday, even if the greatest influxes are certainly recorded during the weekends of the event.

The holidays
With the first edition of the recent Carnival, a program of events and a detailed calendar for the new major event are simultaneously established. The date for the start of the official celebrations is established to coincide with the Saturday before Shrove Thursday and the end with Shrove Tuesday, for a total duration of only eleven days. Unlike the Carnival of the past, which for a long time had an official duration of six weeks, the modern one takes place with a concentrated program, but full of individual events.

As in the past, the Carnival of Venice still represents a great popular festival for a large audience of all ages. Street parties and events of all kinds animate the days of the groups of masks and tourists, who happily scatter around the city. In addition to the official parties in the square between campi and campielli, still today as in the past various private parties and masked balls are organized in the great Venetian palaces. In these places, rich in furnishings and atmospheres almost unchanged over time, it is possible to relive the ancient splendors and the tradition of the Carnival of the past.

The Feast of the Marys
Only in 1999 the ancient Festa delle Marie was finally restored, with an atmosphere that combines the historical re-enactment of the ancient procession with the girls with a more modern beauty pageant in costume. It was officially revived about six hundred years later, by Bruno Tosi

In the weeks preceding the Carnival, a sort of selection is held among the young local beauties to choose the twelve Marys destined to parade as protagonists of the procession, during the celebration. The party generally takes place on the afternoon of the first Saturday of the Carnival, when the twelve Marys, accompanied by a long procession made up of a procession of bridesmaids, flag-wavers, musicians and hundreds of other figures in period costume, begins its slow walk starting from the church of San Pietro di Castello and heading towards Piazza San Marco, between the wings of a crowd of masks and tourists.

In Piazza San Marco, the next day, the bridesmaids parade again awaiting the official proclamation of the winner of the edition, the most beautiful of the twelve (the so-called Mary of the year), to whom a substantial prize is awarded.

The Flight of the Angel
In the modern Carnival it was decided to re-present to the public, in a guise similar to the original one of the ancient Carnival, the anniversary of the Flight of the Angel, in its variant of Volo della Colombina. While in the past this show was celebrated on Shrove Thursday, in modern editions it is generally held at noon on the first Sunday of celebration, as one of the opening events that officially decree the beginning of the Carnival itself. Until the 2000 edition, above a cheering crowd, with its gaze turned to the Campanile of San Marco, a mechanical bird with the shape of a dove carried out, as in the past, its descent on the rope towards the Doge’s Palace. Approximately halfway through, a trap door was opened in its lower part,

Since the 2001 edition, the first of the millennium, the old formula of the Flight of the Angel has been passed again, replacing the Colombina with a real artist and ending the descent in Piazza San Marco. The 2001 flight was entrusted to the Compagnia dei Folli, which lent its own artist for the event. For each edition, the Angel of the Carnival, secured to a metal cable, makes his only descent from the belfry of the bell tower, slowly sliding towards the ground, suspended in the void, above the multitude that fills the space below.

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