Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron: Improvisation and Mobility' 44th International Byron Conference, Ravenna 2–7 July 2018

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron: Improvisation and Mobility' 44th International Byron Conference, Ravenna 2–7 July 2018

Article excerpt

Since the announcement that Palazzo Guiccioli in Ravenna was to be renovated, at the London Conference in 2013, every Byronist has been longing for the opportunity to attend an international event in this crucial location of Byron's life. Therefore, the proposal made in 2016 by the newly founded Italian Byron Society to host the 2018 International Conference in Romagna's main city received unanimous applause.

On 2-7 July 2018, the 44th International Byron Conference took place at the Antichi Chiostri Francescani, next door to the Dante Museum and close to the medieval poet's mausoleum, and at the Biblioteca Classense, where the collection of Byron memorabilia is kept before the opening of the future museum. By means of all the preparation work done by the Organising Committee (with a grateful mention of Diego Saglia and Gregory Dowling, indefatigable in their leading role), the whole event, academic part, entertainment and excursions, went smoothly and safely.

This conference was characterised by the harmonious combination of several ingredients: a rich and varied academic programme; the appealing cultural and gastronomical offer from the city; the sunny city itself, animated by Dante's shadow and Byron's permanence; two excursions in the neighbourhood; and the remarkable ability of the 'speakers' to play with all aspects of the conference theme, 'Improvisation and Mobility', to enliven it the whole week through original 'performances'. It may even be this latter element which most deeply left an imprint on the conference: Megan Coates (Stockton) recited excerpts from The Prophecy of Dante as if she were Byron himself in the process of inventing the words he put in the Old Italian master's mouth; Júlio Sanchez, on the day of his departure, performed an improvisation on The Lament of Tasso, accompanying his singing with a light guitar (like Don Juan in William Hone's apocryphal 'third canto', as Denis Feignier pointed out); and this improvisation triggered an improvised sensual dance by Marie Daouda (French Byron Society), spontaneously performed in the old Franciscan cloister-a very Byronic experience! If, to these performances by conference attendees, one adds the poignant interpretation of excerpts from Verdi's Nabucco by Riccardo Muti with the Orchestra and Choir of the National Opera of Ukraine and the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini, one will understand why this conference will live long in the memory.

The welcome cocktail in the beautiful Circolo dei Forestieri allowed the participants to get in touch with each other and to have a first glimpse of the exquisite local cuisine. The conference scene was set the next morning by the officials: Ernesto Giuseppe Alfieri, the chairman of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, reminded us of Byron's significance in the history of Ravenna; Michele de Pascale, the mayor of Ravenna, presented the city's wide cultural offering; Antonio Patuelli, the chairman of La Cassa di Ravenna, anchored Dante in the city's scenery; H.E. Jill Morris, Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Italian Republic, and Giuseppe Albano, the Curator of the Keats-Shelley House in Rome, launched cultural bridges between Great Britain and Italy.

In the first plenary lecture, Clara Tuite (Melbourne) made clear to the audience that mobility and improvisation were intrinsic parts of Byron's art and life, geographic as well as poetic, the practice of improvisation informing the whole of Donjuan. With the session about 'Byron in Ravenna', we were in the core of the theme: Roderick Beaton (King's) untangled all the direct and indirect consequences of Shelley's ten-day visit to Byron in Ravenna, from Byron's commitment to The Liberal to his move to Pisa. Based on the analysis of the Ravenna stanzas in Don Juan, Bernard Beatty (Liverpool) illustrated with his usual maestria what mobility is about and how the pinewood's cicadas, despite their short life, participate in an endless song. Starting from the marginalia left by Byron in Teresa's copy of Corinne, Jonathan Gross (DePaul) explored the poet's marginality and identified what cannot be reproduced in forgeries, even in clever ones: the fragility of the individual. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.