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'Please tell me what happened, because I can't grasp it.' Nicola Lagioia wrote a penetrating book about a brutal murder in Rome.

Five years ago, Rome was rocked by a brutal, bloody murder. Under the influence of cocaine and alcohol, two near-thirties murdered for no reason a young man they did not know. Writer and journalist Nicola Lagioia, like many other compatriots, was gripped by the case. 'This is not just a story about a murder, but above all about loneliness.' Manuel Foffo and... 

Antonio Scurati wrote novel about Mussolini: 'Of my readers, 99 per cent consider the book anti-fascist. The other 1 per cent were already fascist and recognise themselves in it.'

Formation of the Fasci di combattimento (the Black Shirts) Milan, Piazza San Sepolcro, 23 March 1919 We look out on Piazza San Sepolcro. Barely a hundred people. All men who don't count. We are few and we are dead. They wait for me to speak, but I have nothing to say. The stage is empty, awash with eleven million corpses,... 

'It was as if I had ended up in my book.' How Tatiana de Rosnay's dystopian new novel suddenly became suspiciously similar to reality

It is scorching hot in Paris on the day of the interview with Tatiana de Rosnay (58). In her new novel Flowers of Darkness, Paris suffers yet another heatwave, with the thermometer touching 48 degrees. 'The past few days have been almost as bad as in my book,' De Rosnay tells via Zoom from her Parisian study.... 

When was the last time I hopped? Eye impresses with Francis Alÿs' expo on the world as child's play

An exhibition with only children playing, doesn't that quickly become too tacky or cosy? Not if the artist is Francis Alÿs. Although it is hard not to smile at the sight of a sandcastle, I left the room with a head full of questions about the nature of humanity. No small feat of hopscotching kids and girls 

'Don't be too quick to think you know someone.' Six life insights from writer Rosita Steenbeek

She survived a brain haemorrhage and a serious car accident. As a result, writer Rosita Steenbeek (62) no longer has a fear of death, but an enormous zest for life. It has enriched her. By looking death in the eye, I understood that love is the most important thing in life'. 1. You can also be happy without a relationship 'I've been alone for a number of years and... 

These painters had to shape the identity of their country. Drents museum shows result of 19th century pursuit of Italian nation-state.

Antonio Mancini, Lorenzo Delleani and Fillippo Palizzi, who does not know these influential Italian painters? Apparently a lot of people don't. Don't feel guilty, even for many art historians the names don't ring a bell. This is in contrast to Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Bernini and Titian. These artists need little introduction: Italian art, culture and identity are usually drawn from... 

Antony and Cleopatra, Tiago Rodrigues. Photo: Magda Bizarro.

'I have no problem at all if spectators want to see Anthony and Cleopatra. But for me, it's about something else.' Tiago Rodrigues writes theatre for dancers.

Anthony and Cleopatra is exactly the kind of repertory piece that people look forward to during the Holland Festival, or any other prestigious stage. Director and writer Tiago Rodrigues manages not so much to deflate that grandiose expectation as to reduce it to the intimacy of a duet and a play with extremely basic theatrical gestures. His two actors are dancers, an experienced choreographer duo 

Buying a carton of milk in Venice? Forget it. Writer Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer on his new novel and the future of Europe

'Caffè e acqua frizzante, per favore.' Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer orders a coffee and water from the waitress of bar 28 Erbe. It's late morning and the terrace in Piazza dell' Erbe, a stone's throw from the palazzo where the writer lives, is slowly starting to get a bit busier. Pfeijffer has now been living in the... 

AFFR: A true Rotterdam film festival with a mission

'Architecture has always been seen as an afterthought. I see it as a necessary thing, not an extra. You now see, for instance, that technocrats have taken over power. They come up with a technical solution for everything. They can make buildings that are well insulated, that use geothermal heat: that is now the job of the builders. But all these technocrats forget that it's... 

Tosca as reality soap at Dutch Reisopera

The theme of Puccini's 1900 opera Tosca is of all times. A cocktail of passionate love, political rebellion, lust and betrayal is centred around the person of Floria Tosca. Director Harry Fehr presents this story as a reality soap, with implicit commentary on our selfie culture. A nice find, but it is questionable whether it can bring the drama to life... 

Camilla de Rossi in NTRZaturdayMatinee: three centuries late premiere

After years, my harping on the invisibility of female composers is starting to bear fruit. Thanks in part to the #MeToo movement, composing ladies are also finally being taken seriously and performed. The NTRZaturdayMatinee is even making them a spearhead of its programming this season. This post is more than a year old, and so may have been overtaken by time by now.Last Saturday, we sounded... 

La clemenza di Tito: scorching performance by Teodor Currentzis & musicAeterna

Classical music matters again. - At least if we judge by the protests against the Stockhausen project and the fierce polemics about opera directors' interventions. Teodor Currentzis and Peter Sellars' La clemenza Di Tito, for instance, caused controversy even before its Dutch premiere. They deleted the interminable recitatives and added music from Mozart's Mass in... 

Even the rabble seem beautiful in Rome's 'flower power' era, and half of Europe wanted to experience it

If you went to Rome before the 17th century you were a pilgrim. If you went to Rome the century after that you were a searching artist. Did you go to Rome from the 19th century onwards then you were an honourable 'Tourist' on Grand Tour, seeking inspiration and moral uplift. Going to Rome anno 2018 you are a... 

Silvia Colasanti: 'My string quartet is about the beauty and nostalgia of Rome'

Whether flowing melodies, driving rhythms or dense clouds of sound, the music of Silvia Colasanti (Rome, 1975) is always lyrical. On Monday 29 January, Quartetto di Cremona will perform the world premiere of her string quartet Ogni cosa ad ogni cosa addio at Muziekgebouw aan' t IJ Amsterdam. The concert is part of the String Quartet Biennale, which takes place from 27 January... 

Heart cry of Lili Boulanger echoes through TivoliVredenburg

Although Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) is considered one of the most important French composers of the early 20th century, her music is rarely performed. On Friday 10 November, Du fond de l'abîme will be heard in the AVROTROS Friday Concert. A godsend, because this setting of psalm 130 is of a throat-splitting beauty. Boulanger completed the piece in 1917, a year before her death. American conductor James... 

'World famous outside the Netherlands'. Top piece of 'veduta painting' to Amersfoort

Amersfoort's Museum Flehite has purchased the gouache (a painting made with opaque watercolour) View of Amersfoort by 17th-century painter Caspar van Wittel at Christie's in London. The purchase price for this Amersfoort masterpiece, including taxes, was over 200,000 euros. Van Wittel was born in Amersfoort and, after an apprenticeship with Withoos, left for Italy at the age of 21, where he worked as a... 

Sheila Hicks, Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands -2016-2017- Arsenal-End-wall

Venice Biennale emphasises soft forces in art

The 57th Venice Biennale brings the world together and the art world to Venice. This year, the biennial art event is bigger than ever. Here you will find out what is 'trending' in contemporary art. Everyone thinks something of this event and we live in a time when everything and everyone is held up to the yardstick: 'Have you been there?.... 

Ingmar Heytze on Joni Mitchell: 'Crushed at seventeen' #ILFU

'Stop it. The fewer awards people give each other, the better.' Ingmar Heytze, poet, is clear: 'Within every conceivable genre, there are already big enough prizes. If you ask me, they should restrict that Nobel Prize to science from now on.' So on the final evening of the International Literature Festival in Utrecht (ILFU) next Saturday, it will be all about those... 

'Theatre of the World' (2): an island that remains distant. #hf16

Maarten Baanders saw an opera that remained an island. An omnivore was Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680). No phenomenon in the universe could escape his urge to investigate. A universal scholar he was, but also a fantasist. Hence, he did not count in science. But for a grotesque opera, you can hardly imagine a more attractive protagonist. Louis... 

Louis Andriessen: 'I've never found a new sound'

For Theatre of the World, his fifth full-length opera, Louis Andriessen (1939) was inspired by the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680). He was the last Renaissance man, someone who could do everything and knew everything. Kircher wrote books full of the most diverse subjects, from the meaning of hieroglyphics to vulcanology and musical instruments. He even designed a cat piano, based on the idea that each cat screams at a different pitch when you press ...

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Peerless: 15 stories about refugees, in 49 traits and old set paintings

This is a review of a performance that is already over, and which, moreover, I participated in myself. That's not allowed at all. But it's also a story about refugees in Europe, a theatre floating above the clouds, a church made of marzipan, tunnels in Palestine and 49 draws. So I do it anyway.

Last weekend, during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, a miracle happened at the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels. Scenographer Jozef Wouters and his crew had descended...

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