The sign of the Mask

Artistic director Massimo Checchetto presents Carnival 2023
by Elisabetta Gardin

Carnival everywhere—that’s the formula for the upcoming edition of the Venice Mardi Gras: no square foot in town will be overlooked, with events in the outer islands and the mainland, too. The party will welcome everybody under the aegis of creativity and originality. Take Your Time for the Original Signs is the slogan chosen by art director Massimo Checchetto, who took inspiration from the zodiac and the base elements of earth, water, wind, and fire to find the essence of fantasy and creativity that lies within each of us.

Venice will turn into an open-air theatre, and it will entertain and enthuse us with unmissable events like the traditional Corteo delle Marie, extra openings of the city museums, shows, concerts, and the world-famous sumptuous balls in the patrician palazzos. While under partial restoration, Piazza San Marco will still be the beating heart of the event programme, with the most beautiful costumes vying for the 2023 awards. Water will also be another essential element of the events: opening the programme is a parade, Original Dreamers, a floating performance that will cruise along the Grand Canal on Saturday, February 4, while on the next day, another parade with over one hundred oar-powered boats will escort the pantegana, a giant papier-mache rat that will explode into confetti right under the Rialto Bridge.
An amazing night-time show on water, Original Signs, will come back to the Arsenale after enjoying great success last year. The show is pure magic, fantastic visions, lights, technology, and naturally, tradition and beauty.
The Art director of the 2023 Venice Carnival, Massimo Checchetto, is a graduate of the local Fine Arts Academy. A scenographer and art director at the Fenice Theatre, he authored the scenes of important Venetian events like the Historical Regatta or the modern pop opera Casanova, currently touring Italy.

Your Time for the Original Signs – what does it mean?
Since several years, I have been honoured with the position of art director at the Venice Carnival, which of course made me think long and hard about the essence of this important popular holiday. The Carnival is the people’s feast, for the people. A feast whose archetype, might we say, is to be found in the creative spontaneity of every person. This is what inspired the theme for this year. It means to live the Carnival in first person, with passion. Take some time for yourself and live the Carnival with creativity and fantasy; keep your eyes on the Zodiac and on the four elements, that’s where you’ll find your personal history.

The upcoming party
The programme is very rich. There will be events not only in town, but also on the mainland and the outer islands. Music, shows, fun, and magic all around, with the Arsenale being the protagonist with an amazing show on the water in an updated version compared to last year, certainly more spectacular. An international cast will perform a story in eight tableaux about human evolution. Bodies will voice the ancestral signs of nature and the need for a contact with the transcendental and its heavenly symbols, and for expression with the signs of art in an explosion of colour.
What binds together the several Carnival days are different itineraries: the Venice Carnival Street Show is a programme of street art show starring actors, acrobats, magicians, musicians; Original Sinners is a programme of dinner shows at the Casino; there will be cultural appointments, with extra openings of the city museums; the Arsenale Carnival Experience with dance music for the younger crowd; cosplaying events; the traditional competition of the Carnival’s Marie, a modern re-enactment of the kidnapping and subsequent liberation of twelve young brides-to-be in eleventh-century Venice; the Best Costume Award in Piazza San Marco; and the historical Italian comedy with Venezia, ovvero l’arte della commedia, with over seventy shows

Piazza San Marco
The Piazza is fragile, we know that. And this year, producing the Angel’s Flight is not a possibility. There will be different shows, though. On February 4, at 8pm, the Carnival will open with Colombina (‘dove lady’ and a traditional Venetian mask, ed.) parading through the city on the water aboard a ‘creature-boat’. Alongside: art, lights, colours, music. People will be able to see the show from quays and balconies on the Grand Canal.

Resident Venetians
Don’t feel hostage in your own city! Get busy and participate. To be there actively, authentically, is the solution. At Carnival, everyone’s welcome. The Carnival is no invasion, and Venice is not under siege. Nothing good comes out of such comments. I believe that celebrating Carnival all around Venice is a perfect solution, and a sustainable one, too.

Historical Carnival productions – the traditional and the spectacular
We are a tight-knit team, and some of us have been around the block many times over. While we always keep true to tradition and to past edition of the Carnival, we always look forward to the future. This is a creative job, certainly, though it is also demanding in terms of organization. I believe that the real key to understand and be part of it is just to don a mask and show up! As always happens at parties, it is essential that someone take the first step. Maybe the most important task on part of us producers is to help that someone take that little first step. From that point on, it is all in their hands!

The most exclusive parties of the Carnival 2023

Sweets, masks and parades, all the colors of the 2023 edition

Take your Time for the ORIGINAL SIGNS