Cassandra Wilson is one of my favourite artists, so you can imagine my disappointment to find that she had played a concert in Venice’s famous opera house during my visit that I was unaware of. La Fenice is famed as one of Italy’s, and indeed Europe’s greatest theatres, having premiered works by several great operatic composers.
I don’t know what the theatre was originally called, but after a fire destroyed the building in 1774 it was rebuilt; La Fenice is Italian for the phoenix. The name proved to be prophetic; because it burned down again in 1836, and once more in 1996, shortly after an acoustic survey which fortuitously allowed the acoustics of the building to be replicated during the rebuilding. I say fortuitously, but many were critical of the decision to create a replica rather than embrace the opportunity to create something more innovative.
Perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a good place to see Cassandra; I’d have been too busy checking out the fire exits.