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Italian artists showcase bond between Oman and Italy

27 Jan 2024 By HUBERT VAZ

A unique presentation of ‘The Faerie Tale of Venice and the Incense Trade Route’ enlightened people in Muscat of the special bonds – cultural and historic – between Oman and Italy

An elite audience in Muscat were witness to a unique artistic presentation of ‘The Faerie Tale of Venice and the Incense Trade Route’ by Italian artists Lucia Oliva, Luca Moretti and Luca Rajna, as a celebration of the friendship between Oman and Italy, at Bait Al Zubair on January 22.

The play, held to highlight an exhibition of intriguing artistic exhibits, was staged under the patronage of H E Sayyed Said bin Sultan Al Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth, as Guest of Honour. Those who attended the event included Their Highnesses Sayyida Susan al Said, Afra al Said, Mouad Al Said, H E Pierluigi D’Elia, Ambassador of Italy, Cinzia Farisé, CEO of Oman Cables, prominent artist Mariam al Zadjali and many others.

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Created by Italian artists in Oman Luca Moretti, Lucia Oliva and Luca Rajna, the fairy tale sought to connect Oman and Italy, though far flung from each other yet close in sentiments. It was the result of the fruitful collaboration between Omani and Italian professionals and amateurs in different fields, working side by side with passion and enthusiasm, with a clear vision and purpose – creating a bridge between cultures.

Patronised by the Italian Embassy in Oman and UNESCO International Action Art, the event was supported by the Ministry of Information – Directorate of Electronic Media, and Bait Al Zubair Museum. The three Italian authors of the show were also presented gold medals and certificates of appreciation for their contribution by Ioannis Maronitis, world General President of UNESCO International Action Art.

The proceedings of the evening began with a short documentary film in cooperation with filmmaker Tommaso Giusto followed by a storytelling sequence through 24 photographic images and poems inspired to the Divine Comedy – medieval masterpiece of Italian literature.  

The exhibition, which will be on at the museum till February 10, includes a selection of significant scenography items used in the film, few artworks by Lucia Oliva themed with the presentation as well as backstage photography by Erfan Arafat and Said al Riyami.

“The classic fairy tale was chosen for the presentation since it has its roots in the most ancient times of all cultures and deserves to be preserved. Like all fairy tales it can be read at two levels – the most immediate one tells of two-time travellers who, in an unknown era, experienced the enchantment of breathing a sublime fragrance (represented by Amouage Gold), so as to charm their senses and become unforgettable.

“Thus, guided by an Enigma that drives them to Venice (Al Bunduqiyya), they follow the clues to seek that treasure, which in the end will be delivered to them together with its precious formula, to be donated to future generations as a gift to mankind,” explains Luca.

The key interpretation, however, is focused on the concept of the never ending journey that every human being is called to undertake – what is life if not a continuous search for elevation towards a higher goal, he asserts.

The project involved around 50 people, including Italians and Omanis – professionals and amateurs – besides those from USA, India, France, Sweden and others who worked on different aspects, from costume designs and props to research/translation and execution since the show consisted varied artistic expressions from video clips and poetry recitation to the theatrical presentation.

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Key queries

Was the event staged to mark any milestone?

This was the World Premiere of an event which will be staged in many countries, the first of a series of stories and fairy tales, like ‘One thousand and one nights’, many of which are connected to Oman. We have already written the plot for the second leg of the story which will be shot entirely in Oman. We have also written the story for Bahrain and UAE which will be presented as a film and photo essay like this one.

How much of preparation went into this project?

The project started almost three years ago. First, we shot in Italy, then in Oman on three different occasion. Some scenes were shot at Bait Al Zubair. We also had the support of the Ministry of Information – Directorate of Electronic Media that provided technicians and cameras to support a high-quality product. The scripting was a tedious job that took almost 6 months.

What is the message of this presentation?

The message is very powerful. Many Omanis appreciated it as an enlightening presentation. As a documentary, it aims at conveying useful information but in a pleasant way. The story talks about the connections between Italy and Oman, since the Middle Ages. At that time, Venice was a very powerful city and it was the only one that had an Arabic name, not a transliterated one, such us Paris, London or Madrid. Venice had a name of its own – Al Bunduqiaa – and this was because of the strong relationship with the Arab world. This fact is explained very well in the movie clips.

Likewise, we tell about Marco Polo – the famous Venetian explorer like Ibn Battuta – who also visited Dhofar 800 years ago and wrote of it in his book ‘The travels of Marco Polo’. So the connections with Oman in our story are many and very important (and people thanked us for showing it to them). We had the ability to create a project (film, exhibition and story) that could be pleasant but at the same time convey a very high cultural message, in our style.

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italian artists - audience

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