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Police and protestors clash outside La Scala

8 December 2010, Milan, Italy

Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)

The opening of La Scala’s 2010-11 Season last night was marked by protests, as crowds gathered to demonstrate against the Italian government’s planned cuts of 37% in subsidies to the performing arts.

According to the BBC’s Rome correspondent, John Hooper, two home-made bombs were detonated, resulting in the hospitalisation of at least 10 police officers and an unknown number of demonstrators. Police in riot gear with smoke bombs and teargas were also deployed.

Inside La Scala, conductor Daniel Barenboim used the opportunity to lobby Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, who was in the audience.

Turning to the stalls before the performance began, Barenboim announced that “in the names of the colleagues who play, sing, dance and work, not only here but in all theatres, I am here to tell you we are deeply worried for the future of culture in the country and in Europe."

He then read out the ninth article of the Italian constitution, which includes a promise to protect the country’s "historical and artistic heritage" as well as promoting "the development of culture and scientific and technical research."

President Napolitano is reported to have joined the audience applause that followed Barenboim’s announcement.


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