Daniel Barenboim got an ovation even before he conducted Wagner’s Die Walküre at Milan’s La Scala last Tuesday. It was after he addressed Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was in the royal box:
“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.”
Mr. Barenboim also quoted Article 9 of the Italian Constitution, which directs the government to promote culture and protect the nation’s artistic heritage.
There was an equally impassioned performance in front of the historic opera house earlier in the day as caribinieri beat and gassed protesters, hundreds of cultural workers and students from across Italy. The protests were in response to proposed drastic cuts in government funding for education and the arts.