The Italian Cultural Institute
39 Belgrave Square, London
15 January 2001

Exactly a century ago, the Marchesa Luisa Casati decided to achieve one goal, to become a living work of art. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. In a quest for immortality, Casati had herself painted, sculpted, photographed and dressed by some of the twentieth century's most important artists. To celebrate the official British publication of Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, the first full-length biography of Luisa Casati, the Italian Cultural Institute in London staged Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse.

Distinguished British actress Elizabeth Shepherd gave the U.K. premiere of this original dramatic one-woman presentation written by the authors of Infinite Variety, Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino. Through unforgettable first-hand accounts by those who knew her, Luisa Casati's singular life and captivating artistic legacy were explored. A leading actress of the West End, Broadway and the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Elizabeth Shepherd appears frequently in film, television and on stage.

Authors Yaccarino (left) and Ryersson (right) with Ms Shepherd.

The London premiere of Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse was enjoyed by a full-capacity audience, several members of which travelled from France; Austria; Spain; North America, including Mexico; and throughout England to be part of this special night. Among them were those who had actually known Casati, most notably, the late Lady Moorea Black, the Marchesa's granddaughter and only living direct descendant. Following a tremendous ovation, Elizabeth Shepherd expressed her honour to enact the piece for this very important guest. In reply, Lady Moorea lauded her performance before the spectators by noting: "I do not believe that anyone else could have brought the Marchesa to life more magnificently than you." A sold-out book signing, reception and private dinner at the Institute followed.

The Italian Cultural Institute event in London follows the November 1999 invited staged reading of Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse by the New York City ministry of the same organisation, and its January 2000 Canadian premiere on the Jackman Hall stage of the Art Gallery of Ontario in co-operation with the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto. The latter presentation received major newspaper coverage and was the subject of an international television entertainment programme. At these earlier venues as well, Ms Shepherd's performances were wildly received by sold-out audiences. And based upon the unanimous success of those evenings, Messrs Ryersson and Yaccarino expanded the piece for its U.K. premiere to include their latest discoveries on the Marchesa Casati.

Elizabeth Shepherd can be heard from the
London premiere at the intro to this site

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