Officially Tuesday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – one of the major days of obligation in the Roman Catholic church and a national holiday here in Italy. Every year various confraternities, religious orders and the high and the mighty of the Church Militant – including Big Ben himself – make the journey to the Column of Maria Immaculata in Piazza Spagna on December 8th. Flowers are placed around the base of the column and various litanies and praises are sung. Late in the afternoon Ben and the boys come from the other side of the river – the road blocks, which are almost impassible even for pedestrians, divide the city in two – and he places a crown of flowers on the statue. In the days of J2P2 – the Pontiff himself would go all the way up in a cherry picker; these days, understandably given his age, the task is done on his behalf by a young, able-bodied firefighter.
So what does this have to do with music you ask? Well today I thought rather than the professional stuff I normally post here I’d do a bit of musical cinema verite. Here’s a snippet of the “festivities” in Spagna.
But as well as its religious significance December 8th is also the unofficial first day of the Christmas season here. And though it would be nice to think all those people around Spagna were there for reasons of piety the truth was most were out shopping, strolling, eating and generally doing what Italians do so well – celebrating. We certainly didn’t stick around the Column but head to Antica Enoteca our friend Leslie’s wine bar and restaurant with Vin and Larry for a celebration lunch.
After lunch they headed over to Piazza del Popolo to see the 100 presepes on display and we made our way – dodging road blocks and caribinari – over to the Teatro Le Maschere, one of the many professional children’s theatres here in Rome. Our friend Walter was appearing in their play for the season: Un Fantasma per Natale (A Ghost for Christmas). We celebrated my birthday there two years ago with their free adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Price and this year is was an even freer adaptation of his The Canterville Ghost. They’ve presented it before as Il Castello di MacKerony but made some changes for the holiday season.
Here’s our Walter as Gordy, the old MacKerony (think about it!) family retainer, doing his number, which sadly he had to cut on Tuesday because he was playing with a 38o fever. And since then he has had to leave the show to get plenty of bed rest. (Walter please take care of yourself and get better!)
Children’s theatre must be one of the hardest jobs in the performing arts. Children are brutally honest and more than willing to participate in what’s going on. Tuesday’s crowd as a tad restive at first and the chap doing the warm up was having a hard time until he hit this number:
Some how this group of children singing “Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell” struck me as a bit more festive than the gang over at Spagna. There just seemed to be a bit more Joy in their World.
10 decembre – Beata Vergine Maria di Loretto