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Next Spring, it's La Dolce D.C.


19th-century Italian gondola. (Courtesy: The National Gallery)

By Jacqueline Trescott

Next spring the sights, sounds and good smells of Italy will cloak our city.

The National Gallery of Art has booked two major Italian art shows and that has inspired Destination DC, the local cultural tourism group, to assemble a series of events under the ombrello La Dolce DC.

The activities start March 1, a few days after "Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals" opens at the National Gallery. The gallery's show is the viewers' passport to 18th century Venice, where painters recorded the buildings, canals and plazas of the city in exact detail. Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, was the acknowledged leader of the movement, though the competition was stiff. The exhibition centers on 21 of Canaletto's finest works, arranged with 34 canvases by other artists and opens February 20.

In the gallery's second show, the display will feature 65 Italian drawings from the European collector Wolfgang Ratjen. The works cover nearly three centuries, from the last years of the Renaissance around 1525 to the neoclassicism output in the 19th Century. It opens May 15.

The Phillips Collection is featuring the paintings of abstract expressionist Philip Guston, centered on his tenure as artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome during the early 1970s. The exhibit is scheduled for Feb. 12-May 15.

Other organizations have Italian music and words on their schedules.

* The Washington Opera is doing "Don Pasquale" by Gaetano Donizetti from May 13 to 27. The Shakespeare Theatre Company is producing theTom Stoppard's adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's "Enrico IV" from May 17 to July 3.

* The National Gallery is also setting up a gondola that once transported romantic poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning around Venice in 1851. And the artistic pedigree doesn't stop there. In 1890 Thomas Moran, the American landscape painter purchased the boat. The gallery is borrowing the massive transport from the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Va. It weighs 1100 pounds.

The schedule is incomplete but Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination D.C. announced at a recent National Gallery dinner that there will be tours of "Little Rome." That's shorthand for many of the institutions around town, especially the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast, home to Catholic University of America, Trinity Washington University, and several seminaries.

The work of Italian craftsmen will be highlighted with attention to the Watergate complex, designed by architect Luigi Moretti, the Lincoln Memorial statue, carved by the Piccirilli Brothers and the U.S. Capitol dome with frescoes of Constantino Brumidi.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | September 30, 2010; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Galleries, Jacqueline Trescott  
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