Riccardo Muti makes a stand against arts budget cuts in Italy
14 March 2011, Rome, Italy
Riccardo Muti has led an audience protest against arts budget cuts in Italy during a performance of Nabucco at the capaital’s Teatro dell’Opera.
Echoing Daniel Barenboim’s actions during the opening night of La Scala’s 2010-11 season, the 69-year-old Italian conductor turned and spoke to the audience, urging them to join him in a rendition of Verdi’s famous chorus from Nabucco, ‘Va pensiero’.
“On March 9, 1842, Nabucco debuted as a patriotic opera intended for the unity and identity of Italy,” he declared. “Today, March 12, 2011, I don’t want Nabucco to be the funeral dirge of our culture and music.”
Almost everyone in the audience responded to Muti’s request, joining him in an impassioned rendition of ‘Va pensiero’, which includes the lines “Oh mia patria sì bella e perduta!” (Oh, my country so beautiful and lost!) and “Le memorie nel petto raccendi, ci favella del tempo che fu!” (Rekindle our bosom's memories, and speak to us of times gone by!).
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Muti explained his motivation in more detail:
“I tell the chorus, the orchestra, the technicians to keep up their work, but their salaries don’t even let them pay their bills at the end of the month.”