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Amy Luckenbach and Swietlan Kraczyna – puppets and cards

In the Galleria Bel Canto in Barga Vecchia until the 30th September,   

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Peter Illich Tchaikovsky – Queen of Spades.

In 1993, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Peter Illich Tchaikovsky’s death, I did a series of images relating to the composer’s brief sojourn in Florence (spring 1890)  where he wrote Queen of Spades.

Tchaikovsky considered this piece to be the apex of his creative ability and said that all music from that point on would be referred to as before or after. Unfortunately he died just three years later, so had a little time to compose much else.

However, one of the pieces he wrote upon his return to Saint Petersburg was a very sunny string sestet called Souvenir de Florence – quite different from his dark Queen of Spades.

Therefore, in addition to my dark Queen of Spades series I also did a sunny Souvenir de Florence, a tourists postcard you as seeing not far from the beautiful villa whereTchaikovsky  stayed. – Swietlan Kraczyna 


Amy Luckenbach and her puppets

After the death of his wife, Amy Luckenbach in 2009,  Swietlan Kraczyna spent the next three years working on a memorial for her and her life’s work as a master puppeteer.

Amy decided before her death that she did not wish to be buried and instead was cremated. Her ashes were then released back into the world in four different locations, all of which were important for her –  Florence, Barga, the Czech Republic and USA.

As Swietlan says this made it impossible to create  a headstone or monument to remember her by and so the book of her 35 years work with puppets would fulfil that purpose.

It is a  way of recording her work and allowing people to browse through the fifteen productions that Amy created from her first puppet performance in 1976, Where the Wild Things Are, which was staged in Florence and then how she went on to perform around the world, winning the UNIMA (world organisation of puppeteers) award at the International Puppet Festival in Bulgaria in 1979, and collaborated with renowned international puppeteers, musicians and poets until her death in 2009.

She will be remembered especially here in Barga for her show, A-Ronne and Novissimum Testamentum at the Festival Opera Barga in 2004, many images can be seen here  and another production in 2008 which can be seen here


One of the nice things about reporting on Barga is that I get to see more or less every single event that takes place. .…. every opera, every jazz band, every exhibition. One of the negative things is just that, I get to see more or less everything but after a while it all becomes a blur as I rush from event to event trying to document them.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it all comes back into focus when I get to see something that is out of the ordinary. Something that shakes my hold on reality for just that split second. Tonight was one of those special moments. We move away from”A to Z” to the far older concept of “A to Ronne”

Of all things, it was a puppet show that made all the hairs on my arms stand up, a shiver to run down my back and made me have a quick look round to make sure nobody could see my glistening eyes. Strong emotions and all from puppets no taller than a child’s doll but these were not just ordinary puppets. They were the creations of Amy Luckenbach and they were not in the hands of children but instead in the very capable hands of the Teatro Minimo from Firenze.
A multi media experience in the Teatro Dei Differenti using the minimum of props, some very effective lighting, a very powerful sound track and just the most beautiful puppets I have ever seen – From the archives 2004


In 1996 Amy Luckenbach created Teatro Minimo, a Florence based puppet theatre, whose work is a collaboration between the world of puppetry and that of music. In July of the same year the 52nd edition of the Settimana Musicale Senese saw the debut of this theatrical company with A-ronne, the result of a collaboration between Luciano Berio and Amy Luckenbach. A-Ronne subsequently appeared at the Venice International Festival of Contemporary Poetry, the Semoneta Festival, the Milano-Musica Festival (for La Scala), and the Festival Présences in Paris. The group’s second production, Novissimum Testamentum: un ritratto di Edoardo Sanguineti based on Sanguinetti’s poetic self-portrait in verse, premiered at the Piccolo Regio of Turin for “Settembre Musica”, and subsequently has been performed in conjunction with A-Ronne at Centro Tempo Reale (Florence), the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome) for the Association Amici di Santa Cecilia, the Festival of New Music of Macerata, and the Festival Internazionale Musica y Escena di citta del Messico. In 1999 the groups’ production of Paisiello’s “Serva Padrona” was presented by Teatro Comunale of Florence at Teatro Goldoni. They also performed at the Opera Barga festival 2004.





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