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Celebrations in Prague for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first Italian Cultural Institute and a century of Cultural Diplomacy – Planning of the activities of the Italian Cultural Institutes for 2023

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first Italian Cultural Institute, opened in October 1922 in Prague, and the start of a century of cultural diplomacy, the Directorate General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the Farnesina has organised a series of events in the Czech capital that will culminate on Sunday 18 December with the inauguration of the exhibition Il racconto della bellezza- l’immagine del Natale nel presepe napoletano and a concert by the San Carlo Theatre Orchestra. The two events were made possible thanks to the close institutional collaboration of the Farnesina with the DG Museums of the Ministry of Culture and the San Carlo Theatre Foundation.

Organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, with one hundred and fifty 18th and 19th-century figures from the deposits of the Museum of Civilisation in Rome and inaugurated by the Director General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Pasquale Quito Terracciano, the historical exhibition on the Neapolitan nativity scene is set up in the Chapel of the Italian Cultural Institute and will be open until 18 January.

On the same evening, in the Antonín Dvořák Hall of the Auditorium Rudolfinum, a 68-piece ensemble of the San Carlo Theatre Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Maurizio Agostini will perform pieces by Rossini, Puccini, Bellini, Verdi and Donizetti. The interpretation of the arias will be entrusted to some of the most brilliant students of the San Carlo Opera Singing Academy (sopranos Laura Ulloa, Chiara Polese, Maria Sardaryan, and tenors Giorgi Guliashvili and Li Danyang), led by Ilias Tzempetonidis, and whose training was supervised by soprano Mariella Devia.

These two events were preceded on 1 and 2 December by the theatrical performances Le voci di Dante, produced by the Piccolo Teatro di Milano at the ABC Theatre, Prague City Theatre, with the participation of Toni Servillo, and Perché non io? / Why Not Me?”, co-produced by the Fondazione Campania dei Festival, which brought nine young actors from the “Nest Napoli Est” theatre to the stage at the Archa Theatre in the Czech capital.

The programme developed in Prague has a strong connection with the artistic scene in the city of Naples, as it was conceived in the context of the Conference of the Directors of the Italian Cultural Institutes, which took place in the San Carlo Theatre in Naples last July, thanks to the Farnesina’s decision to go beyond its perimeter to get to know the local territories and institutions. A choice from which fruitful collaborations were born, the results of which we can now appreciate, and which will therefore be replicated in other locations in Italy.

From Prague we will reach the rest of the world, with an ambitious programme of initiatives and events that will be carried out by our Cultural Institutes during 2023 to internationalise our cultural heritage in synergy with other institutions, first and foremost the Ministry of Culture, thanks to a systematic collaboration with the DG Museums, in order to enhance Italy’s heritage worldwide.

As stated by the Director General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy, Ambassador Terracciano, “our goal is to make our cultural projection one of the pillars of Italy’s foreign policy strategy: we want culture to be a priority and central dimension of our external action, promoting cultural policies as a vehicle for peace in order to enhance our heritage, our territories, and our talents worldwide. It is a projection policy we are already pursuing in a very proactive manner, as demonstrated by the over 5,200 events organised in 2021 by the network of our 84 Cultural Institutes, which we intend to strengthen also through the forthcoming opening of six new Institutes in strategic areas: Almaty, Miami, Sarajevo, Amman, Bangkok and Hanoi”.

Activities will range from exhibitions, performances, contemporary art, cinema, music, meetings with authors, with different formats and languages. The challenge for the network of the Italian Cultural Institutes in the world is to mediate between the Italian cultural scene and the local scene, choosing the programme according to the specific context in which the Institute operates, aiming to attract young audiences.

There are many formats and proposals that will come to life in the 84 Cultural Institutes. In the artistic field, they will range from a prestigious photographic exhibition on Italian sites included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to a multimedia exhibition based on augmented reality, to tell the story of Italian mosaics; from a display of illustrations dedicated to the founding values of Europe, to the circulation abroad of the most important contemporary works of art of the “Farnesina Collection”.

As to performing arts, the network will be able to take advantage of articulate and systematised proposals thanks to Italia Festival, the main national event in the field of live performances. The first performance in Cologne on Wednesday 14 December was the show Caraviaggianti by and with Rita Marcotulli. Contemporary Italian theatre will also be promoted, through an important collaboration with the Riccione Award, which saw the Farnesina commission a series of original plays to be translated into the main languages and be shown around the world.

In the field of music, a sector in which particular attention will be paid to young people, foreign tours of Italian jazz musicians will be organised, selected through a public call by an international jury coordinated by Italia Music Export and MAECI.

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