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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2020 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T here are places so magical we should all visit them at least o n c e i n o u r lifetime: ancient libraries to travel in the past and glimpse into the future, to r e a c h l o c a t i o n s w h e r e fantasy and history meet and mingle. A theatre's backstage, where the gho- sts of all the plays ever p e r f o r m e d h i d e , w h i l e s t a g e l i g h t s l e a v e t h e audience in owe. An old Hollywood star's dressing room where, among new- spapers' clippings and old movie posters, one can still see the sacred fire of perfor- mance burn. In Venice, where everything seems suspended and water muffles city noises, you'll find a store, just there, near Rialto, where papier-mâché gets to life. On the walls, you'll find the faces of jesters and pixies, fairies, Arlequins and Pantaloons, of the most hilarious characters of the Commedia dell'Arte. There, mischievously staring, reproaching and mocking our world, are the Venetian Carnival masks. They possess an incredible past, an enchanting beauty in their hieratic expressivity, daring decorations and workman- The Beauty and the power of Venice's Carnevale masks From the director ship rooted in the 13th century. Still today, they represent an apotheosis of craftsmanship, of quality manufacturing created by atelier masters, of ancient wisdom and modern appeal, of skilled hands and family bonds. They have all the preciousness of the real Made in Italy. They are so refined, they preserve in their very fabric so much history to elevate themselves a notch above everything else: they no longer are simple souvenirs of the most enchan- ting lagoon in the world. They are precious keepers of an ancient tradition, they play on theatre stages, they deservedly work in films, they get into museums and make them their homes, they do the cat walk on haute couture's runways. They are not mass produced, nor are they the result of industrial, mechanical labor and this alone already makes them special, filled as they are with life and hardship. They have the beauty of what's one of a kind, of the objects that have no equals. Isn't this why we fall in love with paintings and frescoes, sculptures and art installations: because they are able to transmit creative emotion? Venice masks give us the opportunity to experience this feeling, too, they are unique snapshots created by artists who managed to turn into real beauty some glue and old newspapers: they are small and ele- gant works of art. In the ateliers of Venice's mascareri — as they've been cal- led since the time of the Doges —surrounded by all those eyes, lifeless perhaps, but full of mystery, eyes that stare at us, fixed and unsettling, charming and mysterious, we have also the rare opportunity to walk through the history of Carnevale and discover anew the splendor of Venice in thee 18th cen- tury. There, we won't only meet the characters of the Commedia dell'Arte — that injected vitality into Italian culture and society as early as the 16th century — but we will understand how the Carnevale di Venezia was and still is a moment suspended in time, when everything disappeared and disappears ambi- guously behind a mask. Everything vanished, the individual, gender, social class; voices would change and eyes would shine. Along the calli and on all bridges, people would greet la Siora Maschera, not the person hidden behind it. A new identity, that granted the possibility of living a new, different life, far from reality. A risky moment of disorientation sometimes, but what an amazing occasion to feel free: everyone could be someone dif- ferent, everyone could turn dreams and fantasy into reality and transform their Cinderella-life's pumpkin into a marve- lous horse-drawn carriage and wear, at least once in their life, a pair of crystal slippers. M a s k s w e r e t h e m a k e r s o f t h e g r e a t e s t i l l u s i o n o f Carnevale, a magnificent place where anything could happen, where every taboo could be broken with playfulness, with mockery, with the sharpness of a joke. And then, the truth would emerge with strength: daring and cheeky, always hit- ting the target, always unveiling social, cultural and moral hypocrisy. Indeed, our lives are filled with masks, of all shapes and colors. And today, while walking around an amazing, celebra- ting Venice we are surrounded by a twirl of colors, feathers, confetti, luxurious costumes and made up faces. When we enter that shop in Rialto where, since 1984, papier-mâché is masterfully transformed, observed as we are by masks that are tragic and funny, goofy or benevolent, we end up having to face reality. We see ourselves as actors and actresses on our own stages, at work, during all those social and familial inte- raction that make us feel trapped. We should admit it, at least at Carnevale, when everything goes and we can always say we were joking: how many times we pretend to be happy when we feel sadness, we lie to hide uncomfortable truths, we'd like to act the exact opposite of the way we have to because of our daily duties? Perhaps it's the right time to get into that magic store, there, right near Venice's Rialto bridge, and choose a mask that matches our most authentic mood. It's the right time to wear a real mask, made of paper and art, and put it on, to finally say "our" truth. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italiana all'Estero), COGITO L'Italo-Americano 610 West Foothill Blvd. Unit D, Monrovia, CA 91016 - Tel.: (626) 359-7715 PLEASE SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO P.O. BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano Newspaper (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), www.italoamericano.org, is the largest and longest-running Italian newspaper in America, not to mention the cultural and news resource for all things Italian in the US. A bilingual newspaper which represents an historical landmark for the Italian American Communities in the West Coast and throughout the US. L'Italo-Americano benefits from subsidies by the Italian Government, Memberships and Donations intended to support and not interrupt a mission that began in 1908 to preserve and promote the Italian language and culture in the USA Periodicals postage paid at Monrovia, California 91016, and additional mailing offices. PUBLISHER Robert Barbera Grande Ufficiale DIRECTOR/EDITOR IN CHIEF Simone Schiavinato ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER Patrick Abbate EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Barbara Minafra COPY EDITOR Francesca Bezzone LOS ANGELES CONTRIBUTOR Silvia Giudici SAN FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Accardi Serena Perfetto SEATTLE CONTRIBUTOR Rita Cipalla CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariella Radaelli, Francesca Bezzone, Luca Ferrari, Stefano Carnevali, Joel Mack, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, GenerosoD'Agnese, Fabrizio Del Bimbo, Maria Gloria, Alfonso Guerriero Jr., Anthony Di Renzo Serena Perfetto, Kenneth Scambray, Chiara D'Alessio © 2020 L'Italo-Americano Membership: One year $59 - Single copy $2.25 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to L'Italo Americano PO Box 6528 Altadena, CA 91003

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