Sunday, October 17, 2010

Italian Creativity On the High Seas

A beautiful event took place on board the MSC Poesia cruise ship docked at Pier 88 in NYC on October 2, 2010. Sponsored by the Italy America Chamber of Commerce, Italian Government Tourist Board, as well the regions of Piemonte and Sardinia, Italian Creativity On Board! was a celebration of many of the things we love about Italy.

For starters, it took place on the Poesia, an Italian cruise ship. Even though the ship was docked for our event, it still felt as if we left the city and entered a more gracious world. MSC Cruises is an Italian-owned company and its fleet, including the Poesia, is built with the latest in eco-technology. The hull is painted with non-toxic polymers that increase fuel economy, wastewater is treated and recycled and energy usage is closely monitored. MSC Cruises was the first company to receive the 6 Golden Pearls Award for environmental care given by Bureau Veritas, an international certification body. MSC also received the Green Planet Award for eco-friendly facilities and was one of the first signatories of the Venice Blue Flag agreement to reduce emissions in the Venice lagoon.

Lest you think all of this must add up to Spartan design, believe me, it doesn’t. The Poesia is sumptuous in design and color. You can take a virtual tour here .

Italian Creativity On Board! began with cocktails, speeches and video presentations highlighting the cultural and tourist offerings of the regions of Piemonte and Sardinia. We later moved to the restaurant for a multi-course meal featuring specialties and wines from both regions.

After lunch we made our way to the Art Deco Theater for musical performances by some of the winners of the IBLA Grand Prize in Italy. The IBLA Foundation ( is based in Manhattan and its mission is to advance the careers of talented musicians. The Foundation holds an annual competition in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily every July. Winners perform in some of the world’s premier venues, such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, the Tokyo Opera City Hall, the Tchaikovsky Bolshoi Hall in Moscow and other prestigious places in Canada, Europe, Russia and the USA. The Foundation is under the direction of Baronessa Zerilli Marimo’, of whom NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimo’ is named.

On this particular afternoon, we enjoyed the talents of pianists Chie Sato Roden, Terri Eder, Adalberto Riva, Oliver Betz, composer David Cieri and tenor/whistler Michael Barimo. I had heard Mr. Barimo before at NYU Casa Italiana’s tribute to the Italian swing era singer Alberto Rabagliati. Not only possessing a beautiful tenor voice, Mr. Barimo has been winning awards for whistling since he was a child. This video link gives you some idea of his talent.

After the performances we were treated to a fashion show by Raffaella Curiel. Ms. Curiel has received many awards, including the Grand Cross from The Italian Republic, which is one of the highest civil awards. The city of Rome awarded her the Bronze Wolf as the official ambassador of Italian Fashion to the world. In 1985 she was appointed Ambassador of Fashion to the most prestigious Italian embassies in the world.

Ms. Curiel’s show did not disappoint. It included several collections, including day and evening wear, each marked with distinct music, lighting and the occasional dry ice. Her collections were vividly colorful and remarkable for their small details and embellishments.

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