Thursday, October 07, 2010

Laura Minici Zotti: La grande arte della luce e dell'ombra (rappresentazione con lanterna magica - spettacolo d'addio)

The Great Art of Light and Shadow: Magic Lantern Show. Laura Minici Zotti: Farewell Show. Lanternist: Laura Minici Zotti. Recital: Paolo Caporello. Music: Günter A. Buchwald. Special effects: Frank Bockius
Teatro Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) 7 Oct 2010

David Robinson in the GCM Catalogue: "I first saw the Magic Lantern show of Laura Minici Zotti 25 years ago. It was in August 1985, at the 42nd Mostra del Cinema of the venice Biennale. This was the only time in its history that the world’s oldest film festival had paid tribute to the magic lantern, the most ancient and distinguished progenitor of cinema; since then Laura has spent a lot of her life taking the lantern to other places it has never been before, be it the Quirinale or the Louvre. At that momentous venice show, hardened festival-goers were enchanted, like children, by images from another time. Even for us aficionados of the lantern, here was something different. Across the world there were at that time few enough lanternists. In Italy, so far as we had known, none. But here was not only an Italian, but (to the best of my knowledge) the world’s only solo woman lanternist. And the show itself already had that special quality which characterizes her in person and in everything she undertakes, whether the performances or her exquisite Museum in Padua – the gift of supreme elegance.
We were instant friends, of course; and I learned how it had all come about. One day in the attic of the family house in venice she had discovered the lantern and a rich collection of slides – some of which have remained in the show ever since, and will be seen again, for the last time, at this performance. She had amused herself with this intriguing toy … then given little private shows for her friends … and the trajectory was unstoppable. Since then we have met regularly at lantern events across the world, and at auctions, where Laura, with her connoisseur’s eye, has rarely failed to enrich the collection and the show.
Laura was always renewing the show, breaking new ground, telling new stories. In that enchanted attic there was also a special collection of slides intended for, let us say, gentlemen’s smoking concerts. Best forgotten? But Laura is a historian and researcher and scholar, and from time to time felt obliged to show them. It was an extraordinary tribute to that unique quality of elegance and style that these shady images too were elevated to poetry and touching charm.
The idea of a Farewell Performance naturally evokes nostalgia and regret – but not in Laura’s case. Her personal place in the history of the magic lantern is important and secure. In the Museum, her mission to open our eyes to the rich imagery of the various precursors of cinema will continue. And for sure this final show will live vividly in the memories of everyone privileged to see it, just as the 1985 venice show still stays with me. Magic is the exact and only word. – DAVID ROBINSON."

Laura Minici Zotti in the GCM Catalogue: "To all my dear friends of the Giornate
I would like to inform you that on the evening of 7 October, at the Teatro Verdi, I shall end my role as “lanternista”, to dedicate myself exclusively to the Museum.
A difficult decision, but necessary because, apart from the personal stress, inevitable at my “venerable age”, there is the risk of breaking the fragile slides, through the frequent travels and the ever more restrictive limitations of air transport. “The Farewell Performance” will take place at the 29th edition of the Giornate del Cinema Muto, which has always supported my enthusiasm, conferring on me the prestigious recognition of the Jean Mitry Prize at the 2008 edition.
I have chosen for the occasion a performance with the magic lantern and the most beautiful slides of the collection, inspired by the programme of Charles Hellemberg of Antwerp. In 1884 this famous lanternist showed “moving astronomical slides, masterpieces of plastic art, a tour of the world and other marvelous effects”, fascinating to the public of the time, as I also will endeavour to excite today’s spectators.
In a career of more than 40 years, I have travelled a good part of the world; I have been applauded by heads of state, ambassadors, directors of festivals and museums. From the Quirinale in Rome, to Paris – the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Cinémathèque française – and then London, Madrid, the Library of Congress in Washington, Osaka, even Singapore; the list would be too long to recount in its entirety.
In “my” Venice, on the occasion of the famous Carnival, I projected The Life of Giacomo Casanova at the Teatro Goldoni; this performance is commemorated on DVD.
Already some time ago, I anticipated not showing the precious handpainted slides from the18th and 19th century any more, but to dedicate myself exclusively to running the Museum of PRECINEMA of Padua. Twelve years after its opening, the volume of work has markedly increased: donations, research, education, and the travelling exhibitions dedicated to the Stereoscope, the Silhouette, and the shadow theatre of the Chat Noir, all demand constant dedication.
One day, which I hope is still a long way off, it will be for my son Alberto to take over and continue the study and diffusion of everything that concerns Precinema, having remained fascinated, since he was a child, by the Magic Lantern. Now there remains to me the memory of a past lived with enthusiasm, with the consciousness of having dedicated myself with passion to the diffusion of the Magic Lantern spectacle in the 20th century, employing lanterns, slides, and original programmes when they can inspire the modern visionary. It is to Laurent Mannoni that I ideally pass on the task of continuing the journey which I undertook more than 40 years ago – certain, after having seen his spectacle with the magic lantern, that he has the skill capable of making him the “best lanternist of all time”. LAURA MINICI ZOTTI."

Laura Minici Zotti's farewell show at the laterna magica was full of elegance and dignity, a memorable event, blending with a good sense of humour into the age of cinema. There was the major theme of the "grand tour" full of excursions and digressions into legendary personalities such as Garibaldi and Napoléon. There was even a short gentlemen's smoking concert interlude of erotic silhouettes. Towards the end there were also advertisements and trailers and an insert of Sidney Olcott's Ben-Hur (US 1907) with Herman Rottger in the title role and William S. Hart as Messala. A night to remember.

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