Everyone knows how much music is important in Italy.
However, one would never imagine that the President of the Republic would write a letter to the La Scala Theatre in Milan for failing to attend the ‘prima’, id est the first performance of the yearly calendar.
In an official letter to the Director of the Theater, Maestro Daniel Baremboin, President Giorgio Napolitano wrote: ‘Dear Maestro Barenboim, the Prima of the La Scala Theater this years overlaps some crucial undertakings – I’m referring to the institutional undertakings keeping me in Rome – related to the near end of the parliamentary term and of my own presidential term. This is why I am renouncing to be present at the performance of Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’ of which you are the director. I wish to thank you, the Theater Supervisor and the Mayor of Milan for inviting me, and to sincerely wish the best luck to you, the whole orchestra, the performers, every worker in the performance and the Theater personnel. I also wish to add a brief statement in order to dissipate some arbitrary speculation on my purported dislike for the choice of a Wagner’s opera for the opening of the season. The Theater’s calendar comprises, in next dates, many works by Verdi. Beside this highly significant fact, every discussion on the priority between the commemoration of Verdi’s and Wagner’s anniversary is in my opinion futile, while it is even pathetic to revive (under a vague light of nationalistic antagonism) the XIX century harsh controversy between Verdi’s and Wagner’s supporters. Both these majestic composers of the XIX century are part of the history of European culture and creativity, and they are both entitled to be honoured int the calendars of the major Italian thaters’.
Much is revealed about Italy by this letter. The elaborate ceremonies and protocol to which the public Authorities obstinately stick, often drawing heavy criticism from the citizens, as well as the ability to squabble nearly over everything.