By Robert Clark
This dramatic, fantastically written account of the flood that ravaged Florence, Italy, in 1966 weaves heartbreaking stories of the catastrophe and tales of the heroic worldwide efforts to avoid wasting the city’s treasures opposed to the ancient historical past of Florence’s excellent art.
On November four, 1966, Florence, one of many world’s so much ancient towns and the repository of possibly its maximum artwork, was once struck by way of a huge calamity. A low-pressure approach were stalled over Italy for 6 weeks and at the earlier day it had began to rain back. Nineteen inches fell in twenty-four hours, greater than half the yearly overall. through o’clock within the morning twenty-thousand cubic ft of water consistent with moment was once relocating towards Florence. quickly manhole covers in Santa Croce have been exploding into the air as jets of water begun taking pictures out of the now beaten sewer procedure. Cellars, vaults, and strong-rooms have been filling with water. evening watchmen at the Ponte Vecchio alerted the bridge’s jewelers and goldsmiths to return quick to rescue their wares. by means of then the water was once relocating at 40 miles in line with hour at a peak of twenty-four toes. At 7:26 a.m. all of Florence’s electrical civic clocks got here to a cease. The Piazza Santa Croce was once less than twenty-two ft of water. underneath the skin, twelve toes of dust, sewage, particles, and oil sludge have been beginning to ooze and settle into the cellars and crypts and room after room above them. Six-hundred-thousand lots of it is going to smother, clot, and encrust the city.
Dark Water brings the flood and its aftermath to lifestyles in the course of the voices of witnesses earlier and current. younger American artists wade heedlessly in the course of the inundated urban wearing their child so as to witness its devastated attractiveness: the Ponte Vecchio buried in particles and Ghiberti’s panels from the doorways of the Florence Baptistery, mendacity heaped in yard-deep dust; the swamped Uffizi Gallery; and, within the urban libraries, one thousand million pages of Renaissance and old books, soaked in mire. A Life magazine photographer, stowing away on a military helicopter, arrives to trap a drama that, he felt, “could simply be informed via Dante” amid the flooded tombs of Machiavelli and Michelangelo in Giotto and Vasari’s Santa Croce. A British pupil, certainly one of hundreds of thousands of “mud angels” who rushed to Florence to store its paintings, spends a month scraping dust and mould from Cimabue’s wonderful and neglected Crocifisso as intrigues and infighting between foreign artwork specialists and connoisseurs swirl round him. and through the 40th anniversary commemorations of 2006 the writer asks himself why artwork issues so a great deal to us, and the way attractiveness turns out to one way or the other keep the area even within the face of overwhelming disaster.
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Extra info for Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces
But there were other models on hand, in particular a set of literary and theatrical discourses in which music played a powerful role. He could look to the verse drama movement with its appeal to ritual and the sacred past; the documentary movement with its sociological attention to the texture and particularity of English life; and the interest in public occasion and state ceremony that developed as a response to fascist display, inﬂuencing the Arts Council’s concept of public art and manifesting in the events and festivals discussed in the following chapters.
These were years, in other words, of intense contact with English literary, religious, and musical tradition, including both elements fairly new to the twentieth-century musical scene – especially Purcell – and the traditions of folksong and church music that had fed English music in the interwar years. Along with these signs of engagement with the English musical past came a commitment to the idea of an English musical culture, one that was connected with real audiences, rooted in ideals of community and traditional public practices, and integrated with everyday life.
Brett, Music and Sexuality, 219. Brett’s description of this turn is on pp. 213–220. This description draws on and reﬁnes an earlier discussion of Britten’s engagement with folksong and Purcell (154–171). For another discussion of Britten’s combative relationship with the pastoral school, which inﬂuences Brett’s, see Arnold Whittall, “The Signs of Genre: Britten’s Version of the Pastoral,” in Sundry Sorts of Music Books: Essays on the British Library Music Collections, Presented to O. W. Neighbour on His Seventieth Birthday, ed.