sábado, 30 de enero de 2021



Hasta el 12 de abril

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Edificio Sabatini. Planta 4. C/Santa Isabel, 2. Madrid

La bondadosa crueldad. León Ferrari, 100 años es un proyecto curatorial colectivo y polifónico que propone un recorrido no lineal por la obra de León Ferrari. Intentando disolver la distinción binaria entre una fase abstracta totalmente diferenciada de otra política, que ha llevado a lecturas estetizadas y distantes de la obra de Ferrari, esta exposición pretende, en cambio, interpretar sus modos de accionar, intervenir y crear a partir de los roces y las continuidades entre experimentación formal y politicidad, como dos polos que se resignifican en distintos momentos de su trayectoria.

Imagen: León Ferrari, Santa María (Carabela, detalle de La justicia / 1492-1992. Quinto centenario de la Conquista), 1992. Instalación



CSI: Ancient Rome - what can everyday killings tell us about the Empire and its people?

In Ancient Rome all the best stories have one thing in common - murder. Romulus killed Remus to found the city; Caesar was assassinated to save the Republic. Caligula was butchered in the theatre, Claudius was poisoned at dinner and Galba was beheaded in the forum. In one fifty-year period, twenty-six emperors were murdered.

But what did killing mean in a city where gladiators fought to the death to sate a crowd? Emma Southon examines real-life homicides from Roman history to explore how perpetrator, victim and the act itself were regarded by ordinary people. Inside Ancient Rome's unique culture of crime and punishment, we see how the Romans viewed life, death, and what it means to be human.


Emma Southon is a Bookshop Manager at Waterstones and the author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore, a Best Book of the Year for the New Statesman. Armed with a PhD in Ancient History, she also co-hosts the History is Sexy podcast. She lives in Belfast, with her cat Livia, and tweets @NuclearTeeth. www.emmasouthon.com


‘A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed.'

- Tom Holland, author of Rubicon, Dynasty and Dominion

‘Southon brings some great and little-known murder stories to light, revelling in the bizarre and the macabre.'

- BBC History Magazine

'Blood, guts, murder, emperors and a sprinkling of uplifting Latin. A wonderful book on the Roman way of death. Mirabile dictu!'

- Harry Mount, author of Carpe Diem and Amo Amas Amat... and All That

‘Her lively and intermittently potty-mouthed biography of Nero's remarkable mother contains fascinating vignettes of Roman life (what to expect on your wedding day) and explores why Roman authors wrote about women in the way that they did.'

- New Statesman, Best Books of the Year, on Agrippina

‘I love this funny, scholarly, erudite, irreverent book; Emma Southon wears her learning lightly but we never for a moment doubt her authority, and the past arrives with total immediacy from the first page. Reading it is like seeing a classical statue not remote and austere on a pedestal, but painted in all its original bright colours.'

- Sarah Perry, author of Melmoth and The Essex Serpent



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Esta es la historia de una mujer excepcional, que ha sido malinterpretada y vilipendiada por una Historia y unas fuentes originales escritas por y para hombres. Emma Southon rescata a Agripina la Menor, hermana, sobrina, esposa y madre de emperadores, y le otorga el papel central que durante cuatro generaciones tuvo en la política romana; atreviéndose a pisar esferas de poder reservadas a los hombres, lo que le acabó costando la vida.



Author Patricia Highsmith at home, in 1977. Photograph: Liselotte Erben/Sygma/Getty Images

Forbidden desires, strange obsessions and a singular talent for suspense... Carmen Maria Machado on the dark allure of the writer behind Ripley

Read The World’s Champion Ball-Bouncer, an unpublished Highsmith short story

Carmen Maria Machado

There has always been something fundamentally difficult about Patricia Highsmith. And not difficult in the way that most people mean it: ironic, quirky, feminist (“Well-behaved women rarely make history”, and so on). I mean truly, legitimately difficult; a well of darkness with no discernible bottom.

Which is not to say that she wasn’t, in her own way, endearing. She was, after all, a genius, a bona fide eccentric. She loved animals, particularly snails, which she kept by the hundred as pets and took to parties clinging to a leaf of lettuce in her handbag. Writer and critic Terry Castle describes how she once “smuggled her cherished pet snails through French customs by hiding six or eight of them under each bosom”. She was famous for her wit and wicked sense of humour, and she wrote compellingly of loneliness and empathetically about disempowered housewives and children.

And yet she was a hateful person. She was shockingly, unrepentantly racist and antisemitic, even with respect to the era in which she lived. She believed gay people were essentially unfaithful and promiscuous and incapable of true sexual passion; she had a nasty habit of murdering versions of her ex-lovers in her fiction; she believed menstruating women should not be permitted in libraries. This mix of misogyny and homophobia coming from a gay woman might seem surprising; the truth was, while she didn’t like other people, she didn’t much like herself, either.

The Price of Salt (later reissued as Carol) – the lesbian love story Highsmith published under the pen name Claire Morgan in 1952 – is curiously absent of these pessimisms. There are no violent crimes, no sociopathic protagonists. Even though her reasons for distancing herself via a pseudonym have nothing to do with this fact – she had a career to worry about, and she didn’t want to be “labelled a lesbian-book writer” – it feels correct that she might also not want herself associated with such a fundamentally optimistic book. Because it was the opposite – violence, torment, obsession, all bubbling beneath a cool veneer – that was the signature of her fiction.

Here, now, at the centenary of her birth – her canonisation cemented, her complete collected diaries on the verge of publication – readers grapple with this darkness. What does it mean to love the work of an author Castle describes as the “doyenne of the psychological suspense novel, depressive homosexual, mean drunk, and one of the greatest, darkest American storytellers since Poe?” Perhaps they recognise that you don’t come to Patricia Highsmith for goodness or light or comfort. You come to her for uncanny observations about human depravity; you come to her because you’ve forgotten the sour taste of fear.

Highsmith is probably best known for her novels The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train. And yet short stories, which she was writing at the age of 15, were her foundation as well as her bread and butter. At the time of her death, she had published no fewer than seven collections, and there was ample material for a volume of uncollected stories to be published posthumously. “Short stories are absolutely essential to me, like poetry: I write a lot of both,” she told one interviewer. “Only a fraction of the stories I have written ever appeared in print.” (This prodigious output is at least partially a result of her surfeit of ideas, which occurred to her, she said, “as frequently as rats have orgasms”.)

In his introduction to her collection Eleven, Graham Greene talks about the way in which Highsmith adapts to the short story: “She is after the quick kill rather than the slow encirclement of the reader, and how admirably and with what field-craft she hunts us down.” In her prickly, misanthropic stories, her obsession with obsession is on display, big feelings and bad habits redirected to gruesome ends.

Sometimes it plays out with her telltale violence. In “The Button”, a father’s disappointment in his life boils over into murder; in “The Snail-Watcher”, her beloved pets become an instrument of body horror and monstrosity. And elsewhere – as with the protagonists of “Not This Life, Maybe the Next” and “The Romantic” – her characters are besieged by a quiet misery; they have to learn to accept, if not prefer, their own company. (Even Highsmith’s love of the third person seems tinged by self-loathing. “I have bogged down twice in first-person-singular books, so emphatically that I abandoned any idea of writing the books,” she wrote in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. “I don’t know what was the matter, except that I got sick and tired of writing the pronoun ‘I’, and I was plagued with an idiotic feeling that the person telling the story was sitting at a desk writing it. Fatal!”)

Rereading Highsmith’s work, I was struck by how much she reminded me of Shirley Jackson. Both wrote in a clean and economical style that often gave way to breathtaking flourishes; both wrote in genres (suspense, horror) in which their gender was a liability. Both wrote characters liberated by the deaths of their difficult mothers; both had cartoonishly challenging relationships with the same. (Having attempted to abort Patricia by drinking turpentine, Mary Highsmith would joke that her daughter loved the smell. She was “demanding, seductive, [and] catastrophically unloving,” according to Castle.) Loneliness was a shared theme; menace, claustrophobia.

But Jackson’s protagonists were predominantly women; Highsmith, on the other hand, preferred the voices of men. With Jackson, you get the sense that she is twitching the curtain for you, the reader, allowing you to see something she can see. With Highsmith, there is a distinct feeling of being chased toward something near and terrible, and not being able to look anywhere but where she wants you to look.

In the last few years, the unbearable nearness of sex and death has blossomed into its own queer meme: “I would let Rachel Weisz run me over with a car.” “I want Sandra Oh to throw me off a building.” “Please, Cate Blanchett, step on my throat.” Jia Tolentino calls this “desiring a sensation strong enough to silence itself”, and with Highsmith this challenge is more literal than most. To read her is to access her desires, her darkness, her difficulties; her loneliness and self-loathing and terrible mother and love of snails.

It feels good to be hunted. If you read the genres of suspense – crime and mystery and horror in its many iterations – you know the sensation of allowing a master of her craft to pursue you through a maze; the tingly energy of the chase, the eroticism of encountering the end of the line. “Murder,” Highsmith wrote in her diary in 1950, “is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing.”

When you read one of Highsmith’s stories, you’ve given her permission to follow you, catch you, take you apart. Get ready to run.



 The tumultuous personal life of the great tenor Enrico Caruso, as dramatic as any opera, is illuminated by a treasure trove of letters and other documents offered for sale at Christie’s

In 1897, a young and little-known tenor called Enrico turned up at composer Giacomo Puccini’s house to audition. It was for the part of Rodolfo in the latter’s new opera, La Bohème. Puccini initially had low expectations, yet within a few bars of the aria ‘Che gelida manina’ stood converted. He asked the singer, ‘Who sent you to me? God?’

Enrico Caruso would go on to have one of the all-time great opera careers. At the height of his fame, after a performance in New York, the bosses at the Metropolitan Opera simply gave him a blank cheque to fill in. Luciano Pavarotti said that ‘when we tenors talk, we always say Caruso first — and then the others’.

Born in Naples in 1873, Enrico was the third of seven children. The Carusos were poor, and from the age of about 10 he apprenticed as a mechanic. A love of song soon manifested itself, though, and he began singing Neapolitan classics in bars and cafés.

Caruso made his operatic debut in his home town’s Teatro Nuovo in 1895. He would steadily go on to conquer the great opera houses of the world, such as London’s Covent Garden, where he sang for eight seasons between 1902 and 1914, and the Metropolitan across the Atlantic, where he sang on more than 850 occasions, including 17 opening nights (a record only surpassed by Plácido Domingo at the turn of the millennium).

He was blessed with a rich, versatile voice, but what set Caruso apart was the way he combined refinement with passion, mixing the old tradition of bel canto singing with the new trend of verismo.

He was also a beneficiary of fortunate timing, coming of age as he did at the same time as the gramophone. His myriad recordings earned him a mass appeal worldwide, in most cases among listeners who never saw him on stage. His 1902 rendition of the aria ‘Vesti la giubba’ from I Pagliacci  became the first record of any kind to sell a million copies.

Not for nothing is Caruso often called opera’s first superstar.

He also had a personal life as colourful and dramatic as any opera he appeared in. Caruso spent lavishly on homes, clothes, hotel suites, jewellery and a string of lovers. He had two children with the singer Ada Giachetti, before starting a long-term relationship with her sister Rina and ultimately marrying the American heiress Dorothy Park Benjamin in 1918. He died three years later, from pleurisy, aged 48.

‘These letters take us inside Caruso’s mind, as he grew from provincial tenor into the world’s most famous singer’ — Thomas Venning

At the insistence of the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel III, Caruso’s funeral was held at the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola in Naples, an honour usually reserved for royalty.

A huge archive of Caruso’s personal documents is currently being offered at Christie’s for private sale. It includes 282 letters and telegrams sent by him, and 423 sent to him, dating from across his career.

‘These letters tell a gripping story,’ says Thomas Venning, head of Books and Manuscripts at Christie’s in London. ‘They take us inside Caruso’s mind, as he grew from provincial tenor into the world’s most famous singer — as well as bringing us the point of view of those close to him, drawn along by this human whirlwind. He seems to have been on a constant emotional rollercoaster.’

The archive — which also includes a host of Caruso’s financial documents, plus a handful of photographs, newspaper cuttings and court papers — was given by the increasingly infirm singer to his friend Antonino Perrone fu Antonio in May 1921. This was shortly before he left the US for the final time, and three months before his death. Perrone, who lived in Boston, was probably chosen as the recipient because he could be trusted with keeping this highly personal archive out of the public eye.

That he certainly achieved. The documents were unknown to Caruso’s 20th-century biographers, including even his own son, Enrico Jr., when writing 1990’s Enrico Caruso: My Father and My Family. They came to light only in 2014, when offered at auction at Christie’s. Now, in the centenary year of Caruso’s death, they come to the market again.

Below we look at five of the archive’s most revealing letters.

Milan, 1897: ‘I’d give my life to get drunk with you on the crazy joy of happiness, of love...’

Caruso began a relationship with the soprano Ada Giachetti during the summer season at the Teatro Goldoni in Livorno in 1897. The pair sang together as Violetta and Alfredo in La Traviata, and at that stage she was the more famous, having built up a reputation in Italy’s regional opera houses. Two years on from his debut, Caruso’s career hadn’t quite taken off yet. It’s thought that he and Ada (who had a husband and child) shared lodgings in Livorno and soon started an affair.................



Art exhibitions and events 

Our pick of this year’s standout exhibitions and openings, from the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza to Hong Kong’s spectacular new waterfront arts hub


Installation view of Degas at MASP. Photo Eduardo Ortega

Installation view of Degas at MASP. Photo: Eduardo Ortega

MASP’s latest exhibition is showing all 76 together for the first time in 14 years. The accompanying text pays special attention to the sitter for one of his most famous works, Little Dancer. While the subject is traditionally viewed as a chic young girl, Marie van Goethem was in reality the diligent daughter of a working-class mother striving for social mobility. Marie was later dismissed from the Paris Opéra for missing classes, probably because she was forced into prostitution by her mother — a tragic narrative often overlooked in the history of the artist’s work.

The show also includes a series of photos of Degas’s works in the collection shot by the photographer Sofia Borges. The unnatural angles and hyper-zoomed focuses of the images offer a fresh perspective on what some refer to as ‘the first modern sculptures’.

viernes, 29 de enero de 2021



Hespèrion XXI. Director, Jordi Savall, con Andrew Lawrence-King, arpa triple barroca italiana y | Xavier Díaz-Latorre, tiorba y guitarra. Universo Barroco del CNDM. Madrid, 27 de enero, 2021


“Europa musical. Del Renacimiento al Barroco”


Diego Ortiz (ca. 1510-ca. 1570)

Recercadas sobre Tenores

 Folia IV - Passamezzo antico I

 Passamezzo moderno III - Ruggiero IX

 Romanesca VII - Passamezzo moderno II

Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710)

Jácaras y Canarios


Tobias Hvme (ca. 1569-1645)

De Musicall Humors (Londres, 1605)

 A Souldiers March

 Good againe

 Harke, harke


Anónimo (Inglaterra)

Greensleeves to a Ground (romanesca)

Anónimo (Tixtla, México)

Guaracha (improvisaciones)


Emilio de’ Cavalieri (ca. 1550-1602)

Sinfonía de Rappresentatione di anima e di corpo (1600)

Ballo del granduca (O che nuovo miracolo), del Intermedio VI de La pellegrina (1589)


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Allemande en re menor, BWV 1011

Johannes Schenck (ca. 1660-ca. 1712)

Aria burlesca en re menor


Marin Marais (1656-1728)

Couplets des folies (Les folies d’Espagne, Pièces de viole, Livre II, 1701)



Canarios (improvisaciones)

Antonio Valente (1520-1580)

Gallarda napolitana (improvisaciones)

Bien escoltado por dos de sus más asiduos y antiguos acompañantes, el Maestro Savall plantea en este concierto extraordinario un amplio recorrido por la música europea entre los siglos XVI y XVIII. “El programa se divide en siete secciones: la primera se pasea por música española (Ortiz, Sanz), la segunda va a Inglaterra al encuentro del capitán Tobias Hvme, la tercera es una mirada al bajo ostinato de la romanesca, incluido un excurso mexicano. La cuarta se dedica a Emilio de’ Cavalieri, uno de los músicos de la famosa Camerata Fiorentina; la quinta se hace centroeuropea (Bach, Schenck); la sexta, francesa (Marais, “el clásico entre los clásicos de la viola”) y la séptima vuelve al mundo del basso ostinato y la improvisación”.

Desde “Tous les matins du monde”, la película de Alain Corneau, donde acompañaba las actuaciones de los dos Dépardieu, padre e hijo, ambos en estado de gracia, Savall ha ido tejiendo un caravansaray musical multirracial en vivo y en su ingente discografía. Parecido a aquellas posadas en donde se reunían viajeros trashumantes de la Ruta de la Seda, de todas las lenguas, estirpes y religiones, su repertorio parece inacabable. Un tiempo rico en emociones y sensaciones sinestésicas. Savall siempre es un lujo y un placer…

Más que sugerente el programa propuesto por los grandes intérpretes, que ya no girará únicamente en torno a la figura de Marin Marais, compositor desvelado gracias a la labor de descubrimiento del propio Maestro Savall, pero que aparece incluido en la sección geográfica dedicada a Francia.

“Descubrí la existencia de Marais y de sus Piezas de Viola a los 17 años- cuenta el músico- y en aquel entonces ya estaba buscando obras desconocidas o partituras que  nadie tocaba. Pude estudiar la obra de Marin Marais en la Biblioteca Nacional de París y así descubrir la importancia de su trabajo”.

Jordi Savall es una figura excepcional del panorama musical actual. Durante más de 30 años se ha dedicado al descubrimiento de tesoros musicales abandonados, de muchas épocas y estilos diferentes, porque su preocupación es la universalidad y el cosmopolitismo. Se trata de una de las personalidades más eclécticas de su generación y gracias a su esfuerzo como intérprete e investigador y musicólogo, los amantes de la música han podido disfrutar de muchísimos repertorios que se creían perdidos u olvidados para siempre y ha interpretado piezas provenientes de las cortes de Carlos V, Alfonso I y Fernando I. Ganó un César por la música de Tous les matins du monde, y participó además en películas francesas como las también históricas Jeanne la pucelle (dos partes) o Marquise, con Sophie Marceau, y dirección de Vera Belmont.

Artista muy galardonado, con 120 grabaciones en su haber (ALIAVOX), en 2014 Savall recibió el Premio Nacional de Música otorgado por el Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte español, al que renunció en protesta por la política cultural del gobierno de Mariano Rajoy. Según el intérprete, el gobierno es «responsable del dramático desinterés y de la grave incompetencia en la defensa y promoción del arte y de sus creadores», así como de «menospreciar a la inmensa mayoría de músicos que con grandes sacrificios dedican sus vidas a mantener vivo el patrimonio musical hispánico, ya que sin ellos todas las músicas medievales, renacentista y barrocas no existirían».

Ha interpretado piezas provenientes de las cortes de Carlos V, Alfonso I y Fernando I.

El violagambista catalán estuvo acompañado por dos de sus colaboradores habituales, como se explicó, el arpista Andrew Lawrence-King y el laudista Xavier Díaz-Latorre. Sobre los músicos del maestro de Igualada, dos apuntes: El arpista Andrew Lawrence King (n. 1959) es un afamado músico especializado en arpas históricas y en arpa irlandesa, director del ensemble “The Harp Consort”, fundado por él mismo y director e intérprete con varios instrumentos de bajo continuo (órgano o clave).

Por su parte, el tercer participante de esta celebración barroca, Xavier Díaz-Latorre, nace en Barcelona en 1968. Cursa los estudios superiores de guitarra, con Oscar Ghiglia en la Musikhochschule de Basilea, donde se diploma en 1993. Posteriormente, su interés por la música antigua lo conduce al estudio del laúd de la mano de Hopkinson Smith en la Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Ha realizado diversos cursos de dirección de coro así como un posgrado en dirección de orquesta.

Savall ofreció un programa titulado Europa musical: del Renacimiento al Barroco, recorrido sonoro por el continente de los siglos XVI, XVII y XVIII. Dividido en siete secciones, el programa está dedicado a compositores de diferentes naciones: Diego Ortiz y Gaspar Sanz (España), Tobias Hume (Inglaterra), Emilio de’ Cavalieri (Italia), Johann Sebastian Bach (Alemania), Marin Marais (Francia), entre otros.

En la  primera sección presentó partes del  “Tratado de glosas” de Diego Ortiz (1553) y una recreación teniendo como punto de partida la tarantela de Gaspar Sanz. Agudo y muy fino el guitarrista Díaz-Latorre, dando a luz a estos pasajes solares, tan del sur de Europa.

El trío de instrumentistas prosiguió con algunas referencias musicales de “Musical Humors” del compositor inglés Tobías Hyme (1605) ofrecidos en la viola de Savall, parte de este enorme y a la vez íntimo ceremonial entre el intérprete y su instrumento, al que conduce como si fuera una segunda piel. Delicada y a la vez imponente la técnica del maestro catalán, depurada en sonidos que lo han acompañado a recorrer un universo que se prolonga gozosamente a pesar de los azares de una vida colmada y exigida. Siguieron las Nuevas Romanescas.

Junto al arpa y la  guitarra vuelta al “basso ostinato”, juguetón y sorprendente, y con una incursión a la fundacional Camerata Fiorentina, de la mano de  Emilio de’ Cavalieri (“Rappresentatione di anima e di corpo)” (1600) y del Intermedio de “La pellegrina” (Ballo del gran Duca), también para tiorba y arpa.

Hay luego una visita a lugares distintos y en otro formato, porque Savall se enfrenta esta vez solo, con la “Allemande en re menor BWV 1011” de Bach y el “Aria burlesca en re menor” de Schenck, y las inefables y brillantes piezas de Marin Marais, una especie de hilo conductor histórico para el artista, en unión a la tiorba/guitarra  y el arpa.

El concierto debía concluir como transcurrió, llevando energía, siempre dentro de un desarrollo zen, muy suyo, aunque festivo y bailable, a un público entregado en el Auditorio Nacional, que cada vez más agradece la repetición del milagro de asistir a las veladas en vivo, a pesar de las pandemia, los toques de queda y la preocupación general. Sucede poquísimo en Europa, donde se han cerrado los teatros y se ha clausurado buena parte de la vida al exterior, a la espera de tiempos mejores.

Savall y sus músicos dieron por finalizado el concierto con una propina trasatlántica y de nuevo, antes, con la improvisación con Francisco Correa de Arauxo y la “Gallarda napolitana”.

La audiencia presente en la sala, cerró la “soirée” con una ovación.

Alicia Perris


Imágenes, Elvira Megías