May 6 WorldCanvass explores Italian art and culture

Host Joan Kjaer blends discussions of culture, history, literature, language, politics and art with live musical performances, all in an effort to illustrate and illuminate the complexities that make us distinct from one another while celebrating our common humanity. The live productions take place from 5-7 p.m. one Friday a month in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum on the campus of the University of Iowa and are free and open to the public.

Produced by International Programs at the University of Iowa, WorldCanvass® explores topics that are international in scope and central to our understanding of ourselves as part of the global landscape.

Have you ever visited Italy? Always wanted to go? Well, WorldCanvass will take you there on May 6 but you won’t need a ticket or a suitcase.

Our guests will guide us through the early history of the region and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire to the brilliance of the Renaissance and the modern day Italian Republic. We’ll learn about the development of the operatic art form, take a close look at the life of the great Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi, and hear a selection of arias performed live by UI students. We’ll discuss Italian cinema and the important role it’s played in not only telling Italy’s story but advancing the art of filmmaking. And we’ll take a tourist’s look at this wondrous country, reflecting on the expectations of the first-time traveler and the observations of experience.

Hunter Sharpless, a UI English major now studying in Italy,  Kathleen Kamerick, a lecturer in the UI History Department, and others will begin the program with their thoughts on “a tourist’s Italy.”

UI professors and archaeologists Richard De Puma (Art and Art History) and Glenn Storey (Anthropology and Classics) will discuss their field work and research into the lives of inhabitants of the Italian peninsula and Sicily such as the Etruscans, the Romans and others. Art historian De Puma, a preeminent scholar of Etruscan and Roman art, recently completed the massive selection of all objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent Etruscan Gallery (opened in 2007).

Classics professor Robert Ketterer will give us an overview of the complex history of the area we now know as Italy, looking not only at the political and social changes over time but also at the prolific artistic contributions made by Italian artists from time immemorial.

Ketterer and Roberta Montemorra Marvin, associate dean of International Programs and Verdi scholar, will discuss the origins of Italian opera some 400 years ago as well as the work of one of the giants in the operatic pantheon, Giuseppe Verdi.   Shari Rhoads and students from the UI School of Music will perform opera highlights and describe the exhilarating experience of studying and performing opera in Italy.

Not to be left out of the discussion is Italian cinema. Irene Lottini, a visiting professor of cinema at the UI, will discuss how directors with fabled names like Visconti, Fellini, De Sica, Rossellini and Leone have influenced international cinema and their fellow directors over the last 75 years.

The event begins at 5 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber and is free and open to the public. Please join us!

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