Maybe so. However, culinary experiences makes part of the Paris or France experience. The story of my trip to Paris would not be complete without writing something about some of the meals we had. We actually had quite a busy schedule with almost daily museum visits, meeting with friends and evening theater shows – so we visited less restaurants than usual. Yet I will write about four of them. The surprise may be for the reader of this blog entry that only one of them was French. International cuisine and ethnic food is stronger in Paris than it ever was.
The first restaurant I will talk about is a … Middle Eastern restaurant. Going to Paris and eating in an Israeli-style restaurant? Yes, you do it if you have a Parisian friend who is nostalgic about Israeli food. So here we went on Sunday afternoon on rue des Rosiers, in the middle of one of the areas in Paris with a high percentage of Jewish population, a street where the number of restaurants, street food stops, butcher and delicacies stores with kosher signs and Hebrew inscriptions is as large as in Netanya in Israel.
We skipped other options and we sat on the terrace of Chez Marianne, a place which our friends had previously visited. From what I heard and read from other sources this place knew better days. For people trying to understand what Israeli or Middle Eastern food is about this is the wrong place to go. Having already eaten in Arabic and Jewish restaurants in different other places than Israel my impression is that the Arabic restaurants are on average much better than the Jewish ones. Portions at Chez Marianne were small, pita bread which comes first and hot at any restaurant in Israel was late and cold and had to be ordered separately, houmous and tehinah were not fresh and tasted fade, only the felafel were somehow OK. Just one sort of Israeli beer (Maccabi of course) was available. We ended by regretting not having taken the street food option, but at least we spent a nice time on the terrace chatting with our friends on a late sunny afternoon.
The next experience was a dinner with the same friends at what I was remembering as the best Romanian cooking experience I ever had out of Romania – the Doina restaurant. Splendidly located by the Champs de Mars, close to the Eiffel Tower and on the same street as the Romanian embassy and the Romanian Cultural Institute the restaurant may be the only place of its kind in the city. In 1991, during our first visit in Paris we ate there and the culinary experience was memorable, although the waiters seemed to have problems with translating the menu items to the French-speaking customers.
Some things have changed – the waiters seem nowadays to speak better French. The Web site shows photos of quite a bunch of Romanian celebrities having visited the place. We started with pike roe salad (icre de stiuca) which was excellent, but the traditional meatball soup (ciorba de perisoare) disappointed, not being sour enough. Most of us had as main course the traditional mititei which are the equivalent of the Israeli kebabs - kind of spicy minced meat sausages. They were good but not as fantastic as we remembered them, but probably it was the fact that we had as term of reference the real stuff we ate in Romania many times in the last years that interfered. We ended with papanasi a traditional cheese dumplings desert, which were quite tasty but not as big as their cousins in Bucharest. The wine choice was really disappointing, as the wine industry in Romania developed immensely in the last few years and you would expect to find at least a few of the good Romanian wines and not only the ubiquitous Murfatlar brand. We had the Merlot, it was OK, but then the choice was really disappointing.
The third place we visited was Leon de Bruxelles which is a chain cloning the original mussels place Chez Leon located at 18, rue des Bouchers in Bruxelles, maybe the best mussels restaurant in the world. In Paris they got several places and we chose to have lunch in the one that was closest to our hotel, on Boulevard Sain Germain des Pres.
I personally learned to have nothing else when eating at any Leon restaurant but a large bowled of steamed mussels, des frittes, and Belgian beer. There are many other options and combinations, Liliana picked a different one with a special white wine and garlic sauce. It was great, it’s a standard that is always at best level, and for whoever is in love with mussels it’s the place to go.
Here we got the really French, better said Parisian experience. Au Pied de Cochon is located near Les Halles and is a restaurant-brasserie specialized in any French specific recipes. I had however a friends recommendation in mind already so I had no hesitation in ordering the onion soup and the flag meal that gives the name of the restaurant.
The onion soup was great, one of the best I had ever had, with a generous cheese thick crust over the edge of the bowl and with hot and aromatic onion that somehow succeeded to remain slightly crispy.
The pork leg was however disappointing. It’s the first and probably the last time I am trying it. It’s simply too much work of cutting, separating meat from cartilage and bones, and the ratio is 10-15% edible stuff out of the whole portion you get on the plate. I was expecting something close to the Czech pork knuckle specialty that I ate in Prague which I liked very much, but this was far from it, and having it prepared very well in a schnitzel style was not enough to make it attractive for me to try it a second time. At least I know that I tried.
Se implinesc in aceste zile 70 de ani de la unele dintre cele mai tragice evenimente din istoria Romaniei – pogromul de la Iasi urmat de cumplitul ‘tren al mortii’, evenimente in care si-au pierdut viata mii de evrei. Gica Manescu care a trait in Iasi in acele zile grele mi-a dat consimtamantul de a republica aici marturia sa scrisa acum doi ani.
Ma intorc in 29 iunie 1941. Acum 68 de ani. Era duminica. E o zi a carei durere s-a cicatrizat, dar a ramas in suflet si in fiecare an, prin comemorarile care au loc, atat aici cat si in Romania, amintirile revin, uneori chiar un cosmar. Nu-i usor sa uitam cei 14.000 de morti, dupa chinurile groaznice indurate. Au plecat,de langa noi, fara voia lor, oameni de tot soiul, chiar multi apropiati noua (si tatal viitoarei mele sotii, in Israel).
Fusesem intern prin concurs, la Spitalul israelit din Iasi. din toamna 1939. Era o activitate medicala de calitate si cu multe succese, posibile in vremea aceia. Nici un medic sau student nu era salarizati. Era totusi lupta pentru evrei sa faca o practica medicala califcata. In ziua de 21 iunie 1941 ni s-a anuntat ca spitalul a fost militarizat, intr-unul militar, de zona interioara, cu Nr. 287. Medicul director (Dr. Brener, ginecolog) a fost inlocuit cu Dr. Iamandi, medic colonel, adus din rezerva. Un om intelegator, de treaba. Razboiul mirosea in aer. Camuflarea ferestrelor, pregatirea adaposturilor, etc. In noaptea respectiva, armata romana a trecut Prutul. Spitalul golit, a fost impartit pe sectii; camerele cele mai bune, rezervele, pentru nemti, apoi pentru romani si undeva, izolate, 3 camere pentru prizonierii rusi raniti. Eu am cazut acolo. Era ordin si nu se discuta. Ni s-au distribuit brasarde ale Crucii Rosii si un permis de circulatie, la orice ora. A inceput treaba si au venit si cativa raniti. In ziu de 29, ca de obicei am plecat dupa ora 7 spre spital si n-a fost nimic deosebit pe drumul meu. In timpul diminetii au inceput sa vina zvonuri si apoi stiri adevarate, ca evreii sunt adunati, maltratati, casele jefuite si se aud multe impuscaturi. Se ucid oameni nevinovati, fara aparare. Eram casatorit de doua luni, legaturile telefonice intrerupte. Eu nu stiam de ai mei, ei de mine, Un medic secundar tanar, Dr.Manole Solomon, proaspat casatorit, o pereche ce amorezati, simpatici, si-a imbracat haina si a fugit spre iesire, Cativa dintre noi au vrut sa-l retina cu forta, tinandu-l de maneci. A dezbracat haina si a fugit strigand ca sotia e sngura si trebuie sa fie cu ea. Am auzit ulterior, ca a ajuns acasa, a sunat si a asteptat. In secundele urmatoare un trecator l-a impuscat mortal. Sotia a incremenit in fata cadavrului. Am mai auzit ca pe strada Lapusneanu, a fost scoasa din casa, familia avocatului Altain (el, sotia si fica de 21 ani). Pe el l-au pus in genunchi in spatele unei mitraliere, cu degetele pe tragaci, femeile in spate privind, cum este impuscat” tradatorul, spionul rusilor” dupa ziarul local. Dupa doua zile (cum am putut manca si dormi n-avea importanta ) am fost cautat de cineva , o persoana la gard intreaba de mine. Era sotia mea, careia un rau-voitor ii spusese ca am fost ucis si a vazut cadavrul. Apropiindu-ma de gardul, cu poarta inchisa, ea abia s-a putut tine de zabrele si ambii am izbucnit in plans. La pranz am putut pleca.
Viata si-a reluat cursul ei, mai in sus, mai in jos si am ajuns azi, 29 iunie 2009, sa povestesc o parte din viata unui martor ocular. Nu mai suntem prea multi si e bine, pentru generatiile noi si cele viitoare sa afle ca batranilor de azi nu le-a fost totdeauna usor si simplu. Daca din cei care citesc, unii vor medita si vor fi multumiti ca am scris cele de mai sus, voi avea constinta impacata.
It was my birth today and I am 58 now. I cannot however forget another June 27, 41 years ago. In 1970 in Bucharest, Romania, Blood, Sweat & Tears were on a ‘good will’ tour during the short period of relative freedom during the Communist rule. The concert took place in a skating ring arena which was not used during the summer, and we hear many of the hits of the band that were familiar to us from Cornel Chiriac‘s Metronon broadcasts at Radio Free Europe – Spinning Wheel, And When I Die, Sometimes in Winter. At the end of the concert after a few encores the band left, but we, part of the young folks in the audience stayed shouting ‘we want more’ and then ‘USA’. The police entered with police dogs and dragged us out. That was my first taste of police brutality and repression under Communist dictatorship, a great lesson on my 17th birthday, a lesson that I never forgot.
One thing is for sure – I have painfully little time left for reading nowadays. I can too easily count the latest books I have read, and here I am more than one month after my trip to Bilbao painfully ending the reading of the book about the history and culture of the Basque Country that I had bought at the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Shop (I did not have time to get to a bookshop during my stay there). I started to read it on my flight back home and read maybe two thirds of it then, but life, work, the vacation to Paris, the Internet, the magazines, all the reasons and excuses made so that only now I have finished it.
The name of the book is ‘The Basque Country, A Cultural History’, the author is Paddy Woodworth and one can learn more about his work and person on his Web site. He is Irish, so here I am, an Israeli reading a book about the Basque country written by an Irish, we all have in common the belonging to lands of conflict, long conflicts, with roots in history, with causes hard to understand for people coming from outside. This was one of the reasons I picked the book, which seemed to me the most serious out of not a very wide choice in the shop. Woodworth was a correspondent of the Irish Time since the late 80s, he lived and wrote about Spain and the Basque country. The book is published in the UK by Signal and in the US by the Oxford University Press in a collection nicely titled Landscapes of the Imagination.
Reading such a book can be only an opener to a land, a people, and a culture such interesting and complex as the Basque. I would not take this book as a guide and it is not intended to be one. I would rather take it as an introduction and an essay about the complicated matter of the identity of one of the oldest (if not the oldest) people in Europe, about their history, traditions, political and economic challenges. There is a lot of useful information in the book about the historical background, about the folklore and the traditions, about the literature and art, about economic development and coping with the bigger neighboring nations and the integration in Europe and the modern world. The organization of the material may not be optimal, but again, the book seems not to be targeting the casual tourist, but the more attentive reader, the one who plans to travel with his mind and his body in the Basque Country and know it better. Beyond the useful information a rich bibliography and a small basic but very useful dictionary help a lot. The two maps in the book are however very schematic, so the reader needs to take a more detailed map to understand where many places referred in the book really are. Overall, Paddy Woodworth is careful to keep the balance and not take parts in the complicated political matters but what radiates from the writing is the huge respect and attachment for the country and the people he lives with and writes about more than a couple of decades. I spent too short a time during my business trip last month which was also confined to Bilbao only and I plan to be back for a trip that would allow me to know better the Basque Country. I will read again this book before that trip.
To a large extent the history of Europe is built and carved in the stone and marbles of its churches. Visiting churches, old and new, conserved and renovated takes the visitors in the past times of the men who lived in these places and of their spiritual lives. Churches were the center of spirituality and the power, the places of gathering and the heart of the social life. From a certain point of view it is a paradox that in the country that defined better than any other in the democratic world the separation of powers between state and religion it is still the churches that seem to focus in their enclosures and than radiate outside the voices of the past and the spirit of the French history and culture. There are many such places in Paris, here are three of them we have visited in our most recent trips.
Eglise de la Madeleine is located in the very heart of Paris, but somehow we did not visit it in any of our previous trips here, maybe because it was for many year under renovation. The first projects date from the 18th century but they were interrupted by the French Revolution. Napoleon decided to build on the place a temple to the glory of its army and the classical temple design of architect Pierre-Alexandre Vignon was used after the Restauration to complete the building. Its purpose changed again, at some point it was targeted as a monument of repentence for the Revolution and of national reconciliation, until it was finally consecrated as a church dedicated to Mary-Magdalene in 1842.
I confess that I was never overwhelmed by the exterior (and now having learned more about the history I understand the reasons of the hybrid feeling the building gives) and now having visited the interior I was not enthusiastic either. The arched structure and the altar dominated by Charles Marochetti’s sculpture of Mary from Migdal lifted by the angels have charm and harmony and are the most remarkable aspects in the church. There is surprisingly little documentation about the church inside (and I had left my DK guide home), so I could not discover the tomb of Chopin.
I owe the visit to the Basilique de Saint-Denis to a friend that I met on this occasion for the first time. I know Jean for a few years from the Internet lists, I have read and written recently about his travel book in his birth region of Ardeal, and I was eager to meet him on the occasion of our trip to Paris. He was so kind to come to Paris from his Normandy place of living and we spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting this place of importance in the history of France which he also was seeing for the first time.
If England has Westminster Abbey as place or coronation and burial for most of its kings and queens, the French monarchy had historically divided the roles. Kinds were crowned in the cathedral of Reims, and most of them (all but three) were buried in the Abbey (or Royal Cathedral) of Saint-Denis, a Northern suburb of Paris. Most of the tombs were desecrated during the French revolution, but the burial monuments survived and they are a testimony in stone for the royal history of France.
Saint Denis is a patron saint of France, and the church is built on his burial place. The first church was raised by king Dagobert in the 7th century. The current structure is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles and its building started in the 11th century. As in many other monuments of its kind in France or in the rest of Europe later constructions and renovations were added in the centuries that passed.
Liliana, Jean and myself spend a few hours walking through the church, stopping near many of the monuments, recalling and remembering the stories of the kings and queens which we had learned in school, and from the readings of the classical French historical novels. Here is for example the monument of Philippe Le Beau, the king who reigned at the beginning of the 14th century during the period which saw the end of the order of the Templars, described in Maurice Druon’s cycle Les Rois Maudits. It is interesting that many of the statues represented the royalties lying nude.
Here is the impressing monument of Francois Ier, the king that was educated and then hosted Leonardo da Vinci, and who turned France into an European power.
Henri the IInd and Catherine de Medicis lye and pray into eternity.
Le Roi Soleil - Louis XIV has only a bust, frankly of more modest dimensions than I expected.
Here are the monuments of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette sculptured by Edme Gaulle and Pierre Petitot.
Actually they were lucky if so it can be said, as after their execution they were buried in a place that was known and when the Restoration came they were properly buried with all honors – two of the only six French royals who enjoy the privilege of having their mortal remains recognized.
The glass works in the church, many dating as far as from the 12th century are exquisite.
A few more interesting details – here are fragments from the original marble dales that covers the floor of the church.
Many statues of kings have a lion carved at their feet – symbol of force.
Many statues of queens have dogs carved at their feet, symbols of fidelity.
Here is a couple of friars reading and commenting the holy books for the enjoyment of the royals buried around them.
The third church I will write about is L’Eglise des Halles dedicated to Saint-Eustache. It is located in the center of Paris, in the area of the Halles. A chapel existed here since the end of the 12th century, and the current structure dates from the 15th and 16th century combining Gothic elements with the Renaissance style.
The first impression in the interior is the abrupt vertical dimensions, impression created by the relative small surface and the 33 meters ceiling.
There are a few remarkable paintings inside. Here is a Descent from the Cross by Luca Giordano.
The Disciples of Emaus by Rubens is considered the most valuable work in the church.
The French politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert is buried here and his funerary monument is one of the most beautiful in the church.
I also like some of the glass work, unfortunately I could not find details about it.
Outside the church in the Rene Cassin square we admired the sculpture L’Ecoute belonging to Henri de Miller. You can relate it also to the proportions of the church, here photographed from one of the sides.
Paris is one of these cities that makes an art lover feel like he is in Paradise. Tens of world-class museums, hundreds of exhibitions to chose from at any moment. We tried to select during the nine days that we spent in Paris earlier in June the most interesting art events happening in the city. We decided not to rush and run through the exhibitions, but rather pick one each day and visit it at lease. Here is a rendu-compte of the most beautiful and interesting things that we have seen.
Visiting the exhibition of Manolo Valdes at Galerie Pascal Lansberg was the recommendation of our friend Marica and thanks again for the pointer. It is located not dar from the hotel where we stayed, on Rue de Seine, between boulevard St.Germain des Pres si Sena, a street with tens of art galleries, with many interesting things mixed with high-class expensive but not necessarily valuable art, waiting for the rich buyers to drop by.
Botero como pretexto
Spanish-born and living in New York, Valdes is a successful sculptor and painter with an interesting style. I was mostly impressed by his sculptures which combine monumental with a dose of irony.
We visited a few more galleries on the same street. One name that especially drew our attention was Etienne Hajdu, who had a collection of his sculptures exposed at the Vallois gallery.
Etienne Hajdu - La Parisienne, 1947
Here is another artist I know too little about. Born in Turda in 1907 in a Jewish family he must have considered himself as belonging to the Hungarian culture, as were most of the Jews in Transylvania before the first world war (including my grandparents on my mother side). He emigrated and settled in Paris where he lived for most of his life. He fought in the Resistance during the second world war. His bronze and marble sculpture in the exhibition were the proof of a sophisticated artist, who knew and absorbed the major trends of the 20th century sculpture and created works full of refinement, at the border between figurative and abstract, and with a radiant sense of beauty.
entrance at the Petit Palais
The next morning we went to the Petit Palais to visit the retrospective of Jean-Louis Forrain which was closing that weekend. The two palaces built on what is named today Avenue Winston Churchill on the occasion of the universal exhibition in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century host nowadays many of the major art exhibitions in the capital of France.
Dans les coulisses - source http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/fr/expositions/jean-louis-forain-1852-1931
Jean-Louis Forrain was a contemporary of the great Impressionist artists and he exposed together with them. Influenced by Degas and Honore Daumier he started by borrowing some of the subjects of the first (like the dancers portraits) and the style of the second to become the most prolific and influential caricaturist of the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. The retrospective at the Petit Palais combined caricatures, drawings and paintings inspired from his sharp observation of the life of the Parisian higher and lower classes, the atmosphere of the opera theaters, cabarets, tribunals and brothels. Forrain was an anti-Dreyfussist in the big case that split the French society in the last decade of the 19th century and a few of his drawings had an anti-Semitic tent. He enrolled his art in the patriotic effort of the French in the First World War and painted religious subjects and nudes in the final years of his life. He was admired and appreciated by big artists among which Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition was comprehensive and respectful, well documented with an excellend audi-guide.
The next day we went to visit another exhibition that was closing that day at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme on rue du Temple in the Marais area, one of the former densely Jewish populated districts of Paris. The building itself Hotel de Saint-Aignant dates from the years 1645-1650 built by Pierre Le Muet, famous architect of the 17th century. It underwent many transformation and renovations in time. In the interior court we were welcome by the statue of Dreyfus.
The exhibition that we came to see was ‘Chagall et la Bible’ – a collection of prints and paintings related to one of the major themes of the creation of the artist. The Web page of the exhibition is available here.
At the core of the exhibition were the 105 illustration of the Bible that Chagall created between 1930 and 1948, and edition originally ordered by the art merchant and editor Ambroise Vollard. The Old Testament stories and characters, the people of Israel and God himself are the heroes of the stories that Chagall approached with respect and love making them the reality of the spiritual origins of the Jewish people and of the whole civilization.
In the mid of the creation of this cycle World War II broke, and Chagall reflected the tragedy of the war and the catastrophe of the fate of the Jewish people caught in the flames of the Holocaust with another cycle of paintings this time, that relate the Bible characters including Jesus to the tragedies of his present. La Christ en jaune is one of the works in this cycle, a version of which I had seen a few years ago at the art museum in Zurich – with a Christ crucified as the eternal suffering Jew in the mid of a pogrom of the kind Chagall witnessed during his childhood in Vitebsk, and was then again a reality in Europe. Chagall later continued his Bible inspiration with works in glass – some of them in churches, other in public buildings, and I have written about these a few times in this blog as well.
The majority of the Parisian museums are closed on Monday. Grand Palais is one of the exceptions, so we chose to visit the exhibitions there on Monday.
We started with Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan in the Monumenta cycle, which brings artists that use and report themselves to the huge space in the Grand Palais. Richard Serra was here in 2008, now it’s Kapoor’s turn. I had read and watched on TV a lot about the show, including segments at ARTE and an interview with Kapoor. One of the things I was ignoring is that his mother is Jewish and he spent some time in a kibbutz in Israel in the 70s.
Leviathan crushes the viewer and changes his perception about space and dimensions. You start the tour in the interior which vaguely lets the light and shades penetrate from the outer universe and continue in the contained space which is huge in reality but seems to become insufficient for the creature and creation invented by the artist. Man is reduced to humble proportions relative to art and his own creation.
The next exhibition we visited that day brings together the French writer Aimee Cesaire and the painters Wifredo Lam and Pablo Picasso. Cesaire and Lam were good friends having met during the war when Lam who fought on the Republican side in the Civil War in Spain was fleeing Europe. The meeting with the Cuban artist was another discovery for me. The short film above is not from the exhibition but brings up a few of Lam’s works – an artist whose style is close indeed to Picasso, but with Picasso at his best.
I owe to Marica again the push to visit the retrospective dedicated to Odilon Redon. I knew the artist mostly from his late works full of color which I wrongly associated (maybe because of the period, maybe because of the palette) to the neo-raphaelites. I was missing a full first part of his career when he created mostly drawings, some inspired by books and mythology – a dark and fantastic word which was waiting for me to explore. Here is a good introduction in Odilon Redon – Prince of Dreams- excellent film presented by Rodolphe Rapetti the curator of the exhibition.
I owe the visit at the Pinacotheque de Paris to another friend of mine – Teddy, so thanks! Located in the heart of Paris, behind the Madeleine church it is one of the newest museums in Paris. The name behind the idea is Marc Restellini and his conception about how a museum with a permanent collection and temporary events is to be organized proves good taste and courage.
The clip abut speaks about the Romanov exhibition which together with the Esterhazy collection brought up to the lovers in Paris the history and some of the important works of two of the national collections best known in the East of Europe.
I confess however that I was not enthusiastic about the two exhibitions – I mean they were OK, good information, art that is representative but no exceptional works. I have seen much of the Esterhazy collection at the Fine Arts museum in Budapest, but I have never been in the Hermitage, and I probably need to get there for the real thing. The permanent collection is however fabulous, and I recommend warmly a visit for any art lover in Paris. Restellini renounced the usual chronological or school-based presentation for a grouping of the paintings according to themes and if you add these to the fine selection you get one of the most interesting and strikingly beautiful collections of art I have seen lately.
The last exhibition at the Pinacotheque was dedicated to Hugo Pratt – author of drawings of what the French call bandes dessinees. Both Liliana and me were subscribed as kids to Vaillant - the cartoon magazine that developed our imagination and taught us French in the process. Pratt has an interesting biography of himself (with some Jewish ascendance as well) and his best known hero Corto Maltese started in Vaillant. The exhibition catches the creative process of creating the hero, the stories and the drawings and asks the questions about the blurred relations between art and popular entertainment.
We could not miss the Manet exhibition at Musee d’Orsay even if we are not huge fans of Manet.
Seeing such a retrospective certainly helps understanding the work of the artist in the context of his time, and discover lesser known parts of his creation. This was the case here and we got exactly what we expected.
The last exhibition I will talk about is not about art but about cinema. The Cinematheque Francaise one of the most venerable institutions of its genre is hosted nowadays in the Bercy area of Paris in a building designed by Frank Gehry. Just browsing through the program of the month makes a cinema lover full on envy for the folks who have the chance of having such an institution at their reach.
We did not come however there to see movies but to visit the Stanley Kubrick exhibition. As the director’s family made available a great number of documents about the creative process of the artist, the exhibition provides a comprehensive and detailed image of each one of his films, from the 50s until the 90s, plus a few projects that he never completed (like a film about Napoleon) or other directors finished (AI made eventually by Spielberg).
We tried to see the best of what Paris could offer in art, museums and exhibitions in this season, but we were far from having seen all. A partial list of things we did not get to see included an exhibition of the Impressionist works about Paris at Hotel de Ville, a retrospective Severini at the Orangerie, a contemporary Indian art exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou peered with an exhibition about Lucknow at Musee Guimet (part of an Indian culture festival) and many other. It’s a city that lives by art and culture.
‘What’s in a name?’ asks Romeo in one of the best known monologues in Romeo and Juliet and in the whole history of theater. What’s in the title of a play that any viewer knows about since school, whose every story detail, scene and sometimes exact words are well know in advance? How can you make of such a play and a story a performance that is relevant to our times? The bet is being taken in the most daring manner by the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. The bet is won. They trusted the performance to a 30 years old director – Noam Shmuel – at his first major stage performance in one of the best theaters in Israel. Shmuel reused the Cameri 3 hall in the same manner it was used for the performance with Hamlet (staring Itay Tiran) a few years ago. There is no stage in the sense we understand the structure in any theater hall. Spectators are sit in the middle of the room on chairs that rotate 360 degrees, and the performance happens around and in the middle of them. Multimedia screens like in sport bars broadcast from time to time flash news and anchor Yaron London tells the choir part in the style he does the evening news and political commentaries broadcast on TV. Romeo and Juliet are brought in contemporaneity and we spectators are part of the story, which happens at the same level and at breathing distance from us.
The beautiful thing in this performance at Cameri is that neither the dramatic structure nor the beauty of the Shakespearean verse got lost in the modern adaptation. The Hebrew translation of Eli Bijaui mixes modern Hebrew with the classical transcription of the language of the bard, and the ratio of the mix is the right one. We are simultaneously in the eternal Verona where the impossible and tragic love story is happening and inexorably ending for centuries but we also are in the 21st century Israel with the crime families wars dominating the news. The violence is the same, the absurd of the circumstances that prevent the lovers to reunite transcends time. One more plus is the selection of the actors. Nelly Tagar is a young, fresh and fragile Juliet, which immediately brings to mind the vision of Franco Zeffirelli who also understood and projected the power of the teenagers love story in his cinematographic version of 1968. Dan Shapira is a plausible Romeo counterpart to Tagar. The role that dominates the performance is however the Nurse, which is turned here in the key character of the story. The vision of the director in general can be called a feminist one, as the feminine characters (the nurse, Juliet, the mothers in the two families) all play central roles amplified relative to what we are accustomed in the classical performances, and even the modern ones where friar Lorenzo is the favorite maverick. Not so here, where Rozina Cambos‘s Nurse dominates the intrigue and the performance in what is maybe one of the memorable roles of her acting career, and maybe the best since she came to Israel. I am following her career for about 35 years so I may be suspected of some bias, but I believe that for many Israeli spectators who saw this stage version, it will remain in memory as the Nurse’s and Rozina’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
La Bucuresti are loc in aceasta saptamana prima editie a Festivalul Filmului Evreiesc – BJFF (http://www.bjff.ro/). Prietena mea Felicia Antip mi-a facut placerea de a-mi permite sa preiau pentru cititorii blogului notele ei de la vizionarea unuia din filmele prezentate la festival – ‘Das Kind’ al lui Yonathan Levy. Informatii despre film si regizor pot fi gasite la http://www.bjff.ro/the-child.html
Am vazut unul dintre cele 45 de filme din saptamana filmului evreiesc si am fost uluita de personalitatea protagonistei, Irma Rosenberg (Rottenstein, Miko), nascuta in 1916 la Cernauti, cea mai mica fiica a unei familii de intelectuali subtiri cu multi copii (drept care ei i s-a spus in familie ”das Kind”. Filmul, scris si produs in 2010 de fiul ei André Miko, (interlocutorul caruia ii povesteste viata ei) porneste din Paris (orasul ei de resedinta din 1937) trece prin Bucuresti si ajunge la Cernauti. Este vorbit in franceza, germana si romana. E uluitor ce romana vorbeste aceasta femeie care a avut ca limba materna germana, a parasit definitiv Romania in 1937 si n-a mai avut de atunci cu cine sa vorbeasca romaneste. Este de necrezut si vigoarea cu care la 94 de ani canta la pian Beethoven, desi a renuntat inca din adolescenta la cariera de pianista. In Romania a fost comunista, a plecat pentru ca era mereu data afara din aceasta cauza din diversele facultati, s-a maritat in 1935, primul ei sot a plecat, la indemnul ei din Franta pentru a participa la razboiul din Spania, dupa care viata i-a despartit (el ajungand in Rusia si Romania, ea ramanand in Franta). A participat la Rezistenta intr-un grup de fete care aveau menirea de a slabi moralul militarilor germani convingandu-i ca lupta pentru o cauza gesita.. Apare in film si un neamt care facuse parte dintre ocupantii Parisului dar a fost convins de ea sa intre in Rezistenta si isi povesteste si el amintirile. Marturisesc ca asa ceva n-am mai vazut niciodata!
Evocarea nostalgica a Cernautiului austriac si post-austriac, intreaga reconstituire istorica, evolutia gandirii eii sunt desigur interesante. La Bucuresti apar interlocutorii nelipsiti din reconstituirile de acest gen Andrei Oisteanu si Lya Beniamin. Este prezenta si nepoata protagonistei, Sarah, fiica lui André, catre o reprezinta pe Irma in tinerete. Pentru Irma, “acasa” a ramas pentru totdeauna la Cernauti. Pentru cel putin unul dintre fiii ei, “acasa” este, ne-o spune chiar el, in Israel.
Nu totul este perfect. Sunt si lucruri discutabile. De exemplu, Irma compara Romania cu Rusia ca tari care (spre deosebire de Cehoslovacia) n-au cunoscut niciodata democatia, iar Lya Beniamin n-o contrazice
Filmul este subtitrat in engleza si romana, dar ceva mai rusinos decat titlurile romanesti este greu de imaginat. La un moment dat, Irma spune ca francezii nu iubeau pe “les métèques”. In traducere: francezii nu-i iubeau pe Metics.Dupa vreo doua-trei asemenea gogomanii, m-am ferit sa citesc subtitrarea romaneasca, oricum foarte jos si cu litere mici .Nici n-am avut nevoie, sonorul este perfect si, pentru cei care nu inteleg totul exista onorabile subtitluri englezesti.
Oricum, initaitiva, care este originala si foarte bine gandita, face parte dintr-un grup de 130 de manifestari similare programate in intreaga lum. Dateaza din 1995, a fost gandita la Postdam si ajunge pentru prima oara si in Romania . Timp de o saptamana sunt prezentate in cateva mari cinematografe si muzee bucurestene 45 de filme artistice si documentare produse in Israel si in Romania si, de asemenea, in Germania, Statele Unite, Franta, Argentina, Suedia, Ucraina, Polonia, Canada, Argentina, Marea Britanie. Din pacate, fiecare ruleaza numai o data. Voi incerca sa vad cat mai multe, dar asta inseamna tot foarte putine.
Un nou articol semnat de Gica Manescu ne poarta in locuri vizitate de el in vacantele sale din America de Nord.
Cotrobaind prin mape cu diverse insemnari, amintiri din locuri deosebite si cu unele particularitati mai rar vazute si stiind ca probabil o a doua vizitare nu va mai fi, le-am scos la iveala. Cum imi place de multa vreme sa scriu cate ceva, le mai folosesc, sunt bine venite ca un ajutor al memoriei. Ce fac si acum. Vad multe cu ochii mintii, ca si cand fusesera de curand.
In urma cu ctiva ani, din New Rochelle, Statul NY, unde imi fac deseori vacantele, patru persoane, ne-am suit in masina si am pornit spre Canada, directia Montreal.
Cam dupa jumatatea drumului ne-am abatut de pe autostrada si am ajuns la marginea lacului Champlain, l-am traversat partial cu un ferryboat si pe malul opus am circulat pe o sosea ingusta, pe o fasie de teren care era ca un pod, taind lacul in doua.
Formalitatile vamale rapide, ‘cic-ceac’ am spune noi, o privire in pasapoarte si una catre cei din masina si “bon voyage“.
Scopul vizitei la Montreal (unde mai fusesem de cateva ori) n-a fost “turistic” ci acela de a ne revedea rudele si prietenii buni.
Tinta noastra principala a fost o localitate turistica la 150 Km. de Montreal, in Quebec, Mont Tremblant. Nu e nici munte la 360 m. altitudine (cam cat Breaza, dupa Campina, la Km. 104, cu un restaurant renumit), dar nici nu tremura. Foarte pitoreasca, dezvoltata mult in ultimii ani. Hoteluri bune, restaurante, tot felul de magazine si coada la unica unitate de vanzare a inghetatei, din centrul localitatii.
Niste cabine mici care circula toata ziua succedandu-se la 3-4 secunde te urca pe gratis la 600 m. altitudine. Se iese din cabina, pe un platou cu chioscuri si distractii. Contra cost, poti ajunge cu gondola, la 1000 de metri. E ca la Cota 1400 din Sinaia. Restaurant, terasa, carari de drumetie, priveliste frumoasa in jos si in departare.
Pentru ca localitatea se afla pe malul unui lac, Miroir (un Snagov mai mare), s-a amenajat un strand cum spunem noi. S-a adus nisip foarte fin si s-a nascut o plaje cu sezlonguri, umbrele de soare, etc. Se plateste o taxa de intrare, ti se leaga la incheitura mainii, ca o curea de ceas-o banderola colorata, aratand valabilitatea iesirii si intrarii, in tot cursul zilei.
Multi dintre vizitatori se lansau in diverse sporturi pe apa (barci cu rame cu motor, cu panze si chiar cu pedale). Nu era o placere ieftina, cam 100 de dolari canadieni pentru 30 minute. Din noembrie se vine pentru sporturi de iarna.
Limba oficiala e franceza. Cu rusine spun, desi stiu ca si altii ar spune-o, nu am inteles bine ce-mi vorbeau chelnerii, vanzatorii, s.a. Nu la hotel. Accentul din Quebec e mai deosebit.
E ca si in Germania unde locuitorii din nord, de care se spune ca vorbesc “germana superioara “ si cei din Bavaria din sudul tarii, au expresiile lor neintelese de multi locuitori ai Republicii.
In drumul de intoarcere, pe care nam vrut sa-l facem dintr-o bucata (cam 700 Km.) am poposit la Williamstown, un orasel fondat in 1753. Situat in statul Masachussets, cu cca. 8000 de locuitori, la granita cu statele New York si Vermont. Impregnat de stilul “New England”, al intregi regiuni, pitoresc si curat, are pe langa cele 9 biserici ale diferitelor rituri crestine si o sinagoga a Congregatiei Bet Israel (Casa Israel ).
Ce inseamna, cati evrei traiau in oras sau viziteaza sinagoga, n-am avut de la cine afla.
Renumit prin Colegiul lui, ca institutie de invatamant, infintat si deschis in 1793, cu aproimativ 2000 de elevi care dupa 4 ani de studiou termina cu bacalaureat in domeniul artelor. Este cunoscut si apreciat inca prin festivalurile de vara pentru teatru si muzica. In plus, penruMuzeul de Arta “ Clark”, inaugurat in 1955. O cladire moderna, sptioasa si luminoasa si care adaposteste in numeroasele sali, opere de arta: pictura, sculptura, argntarie si altele, ale diversilor artist din epoci diferite,
Interesanta a fost in timpul vizitei noastre, o expunere de ablouri ale pictorilor impesionisti Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, s.a. organizata cu sprijinul Galeriei Nationale dn Londra si a Muzeului Van Gogh din Amsterdam. M-a impresionat tabloul “Ghetele“, in care Van Gogh a pictat propria incaltaminte, veche,scalciata si rupta, dovedind saracia si mizea in care traia. Un ziar londonez scrisese ca “este cea mai frumoasa pictura imaginabila “.
Many people call themselves today human rights activists and freedom fighters. So many and so different are the people and their aims and causes that the very notions seem to have lost value. Yelena Bonner was the real thing. She fought together with her husband Andrei Sakharov for the human rights of the people oppressed by the Communist system – one of the most repressive in history. She spoke up when everybody else was silent. She never stopped fighting for the freedom of the people suffering under dictatorship and repression. She supported the right causes for all her life with no fear of prison or exile and nothing could silence her voice until the very last days of her life.