воскресенье, 13 декабря 2015 г.

Italy's Matteo Renzi defies security fears for a night at the opera in Milan

Prime minister joins La Scala’s season opener, which is often met by anti-austerity protests and this year took place amid concerns over terrorism

By Rosie Scammell


Milan’s opera season opened on Monday night to rapturous applause and a visit from Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, despite La Scala theatre being listed as a possible terrorist target and a lone protester diving into the orchestra pit.

Renzi was just one of Italy’s elite to defy security warnings and a cold snap in the country’s financial capital to attend the opening night of Verdi’s Joan of Arc (Giovanna d’Arco), which has not been performed at the opera house for 150 years.

The Scala production got under way with an apology by the theatre’s general manager, Alexander Pereira, announcing the absence due to illness of one baritone. But the audience showed few signs of disappointment, with shouts of “bravi!” throughout and more than ten minutes of closing applause.

The notorious loggionisti, who are known to boo their displeasure from the gods, remained well-behaved.

Much of the audience appeared unaware of a lone protester, dressed in a ball gown, hurling herself over the barrier and into the orchestra pit as the opera came to an end. Before being escorted out of the pit she unfurled a white cloth which included the slogan: “For a richer and more equal Italy.”

Neither the guests sitting next to her nor La Scala’s spokesman, Paolo Besana, were able to immediately identify the woman. Despite the security breach the applause continued and Renzi remained until the end, accompanied by other key politicians such as Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, and Milan’s mayor, Giuliano Pisapia.

The opera gala came after the US government last month warned La Scala was a potential target for a terrorist attack, prompting the theatre to increase security. Dressed in their finest gowns and tuxedos, opera lovers passed by polite police officers wielding metal detectors and carrying out bag checks at the La Scala entrance.


Addressing the new measures on his arrival, Franceschini said tightened security should not stop people enjoying themselves. “It’s necessary to guarantee the security of citizens with all (necessary) measures and resources, but at the same time it’s necessary to continue to live and avoid fear preventing life,” the minister was quoted in Italian daily Corriere della Sera as saying.


As has become tradition on 7 December, protesters gathered outside La Scala to rally against austerity and promote various causes. Demonstrators were separated from the theatregoers by rows of riot police and barriers and rolled out their own red carpet, avoiding the violent clashes which marred the gala a year ago.


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