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Published: October 11th 2006
We went for a walk to Piazza della Scala, home to the city's famous opera house which was designed by Giuseppe Piermarini in 1776-1778, to hold up to 2,000 spectators. We decided that rather than take a tour through the theatre, we would try and get last minute tickets to the final performance for the month. The deal was you had to come back at 6pm.
We went for a walk, had lunch then went back for the tickets, after working out the system we finally managed to get some (which were close to the last ones!!) and then had an hour and forty five minutes to get back to the hotel using the underground, shower and get back for the show! It was a challenge but we’ve been under pressure many times in our travels last year and managed it with ease!!
Once inside one of the most famous opera theaters in the world, you can see how beautiful it is, truly old school opera building with separate booths and red velvet and chandeliers everywhere it was just so regal!
Tonight’s performance was the final in the season for Il pipistrello by Roland Petit
which was performed to the music of Strauss and presented by Balletto della Scala. The performance was a mime, but basically it was supposed to depict the transformation of bourgeois wife into seductive spouse and mysterious and intriguing figure (although I’m not sure I got that!!hehe!)
Even though our seats weren’t what we would have picked for ourselves, we managed to move after the first half for a better view. We had a really good time and were glad that we went.
After the show we walked down Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant steel and glass shopping arcade for dinner, which houses the likes of Louis Vuitton & Prada. I like the way that the golden arches are right opposite Louie and Prada!! Gold!!
The next day we got up early and had breakfast - what they call an All American Breakfast… Not sure who they think eats lasagna for breakfast normally!!!!?!?!? But I was excited about the fresh fruit and banana - can’t believe how excited I was about the banana!! But guess since I can’t remember the last time I had one at home (because of the tropical storms flattening all the crops in
QLD) it seemed like a bit deal!! Nat was unaware as to why I was soooo excited (think she just thought I was going a bit nuts!!)
We then trekked down to Santa Maria delle Grazie where the Last Supper is. Nat was skillful in getting the tickets!!! (good job again Nat!!!) there were lots of disappointed people down there who thought they could just turn up and get tickets - but rumour has it they are sold out 3 months in advance. They only take groups of 25 people for 15 minutes at a time.
We made our way into the refectory (dining hall) behind our English speaking guide, all eager to see the painting which Leonardo Da Vinci began painting in 1495 and completed in 1498, and the painting was at the northern end of the empty hall right there painted directly onto the wall… it measures fifteen by twenty-nine feet. I really hadn’t expected it to be like that... apparently the majority of the hall had been destroyed by a bomb on 15th August 1943 and the only bits to survive were the paintings at both ends of the hall - one being The Last
Supper and the other being Giovanni Donato Montorfano’s Crucifixion. They survived due to the wall being braced and sandbagged as a precaution. After the bombings the painting had to face harsh conditions as the walls were not repaired for a year. The painting stands whole with the exception of the construction of a doorway (which has now been filled in) in 1653 which eliminated the lower central area of the painting! (which apparently was where the kitchen was, which also damaged the painting!) Whose idea was that?!?!
Our guide explained that the picture, which was extremely interesting (can’t believe I didn’t take my glasses!! Arggghh!!) and also said that the Da Vinci Code was a fictional book and should be forgotten about for the following 10 minutes whilst she ran through the explanation of the painting - I thought that was interesting as I was waiting to see what they were going to say about it all!! And they stock all the Da Vinci Code books in their gift shop.
A bell rang and we were all marched out before I spent any time just looking at the painting which was a little disappointing… We didn’t get any
time at all to see the painting at the other end of the hall. Tight schedule apparently!
This isn’t the exact same info that was provided to us but it will give you an idea…
Leonardo was commissioned to execute the painting in the Dominican monastery of this Church by Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza.
The church and friary found an ambitious patron in Ludovico Sforza. The Duke wanted to give visible expression to his position in both impressive buildings like the grand Church and grandiose paintings like the Last Supper. Therefore, Santa Maria delle Grazie became the court church, burial place for members of the Ducal family, and home to Leonardo's famous painting.
While the Last Supper is a typical subject chosen for the decoration of many refectories because of the Eucharistic theme of sacrifice, Leonardo chose to capture the moment in which Jesus announces to the apostles that he knows one of them will betray him. The apostles are captured in their sense of astonishment immediately after this announcement. His conception and pictorial treatment of the subject forges a new path.
Secondly, the Last Supper's initial appearances as Christian iconography illustrated two main
ideas handed down in the Gospel texts: reference to the betrayal of Jesus Christ and the counter-motif to the betrayal. These ideas were realised in prior portraits with the image of Jesus feeding his traitor, Judas, a piece of bread dipped in wine, and John reclining his head against the breast of the Lord. It was from this tradition, familiar to all predecessors, that Leonardo chose to depart. His conception of the theme was completely dominated by the idea of bringing out the announcement of the betrayal as the dramatic central motif.
The faces in the painting, with the exception of Jesus (center figure), are reportedly those of actual people Leonardo sought out in Milan. Reportedly, Leonardo spent much time wandering through jails with Milanese criminals to locate the appropriate Judas (fourth figure from left of painting). In addition to using living models from some of the disciples, Leonardo surrounded them with objects then in everyday use. The tablecloth, knives, forks, glassware, and china were all similar to those of the monks residing at the monastery.
Leonardo kept Judas within the company of his fellow Apostles within his depiction. In earlier paintings of the Last Supper, Judas had
been shown to the side of the table as he was fed the bread dipped in wine by Jesus Christ in an effort to display him as shunned. However, as the fourth figure on the left, Leonardo portrays Judas as recoiling from Jesus. He is the only figure whose face is lost in the shadow, a subtle indication that he is lost from the light of Christ. He is also the only individual other than Christ to not be portrayed in the wave of emotion that seems to increase from left to right in the painting in an attempt to symbolise his guilt.
Leonardo's Last Supper was reopened to the public in May 1999. The painting is now preserved by a sophisticated air filtration system, moisture monitored environment, and dust-filtering chambers.
The painting displays much details, including spilt salt near one of the Apostles which apparently symbolises bad luck Spilt salt and there were many other items showed which had great meaning. During one of the restorations of the painting however, one of the Apostles hands was turned into a bread roll!!!
For those of you that are interested I found this excellent site http://milano.arounder.com/da_vinci_last_supper/fullscreen.html if you
click on the 3rd click to view’ from the left and you can zoom in on the painting and pretend that you were there with us!!
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