The stars sing under the stars: a global gala celebrates opera

The stars sing under the stars: a global gala celebrates opera
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Although much of the campaign for recognition occurred under a previous center-left government, inclusion on the list by the United Nations agency, UNESCO, was something of a coup for Italy’s conservative government, the whose Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has made it his mission to exalt Italianness.

One of his projects is a museum of Italian culture, to highlight the «contribution that Italy has made to humanity», and his positions at the direction of the most important museums have favored local choices where the previous government looked for international talent. His choice in April of a director for La Scala, Milan’s grand opera house, came with a statement trumpeting that the new boss, Fortunato Ortombina, was Italian, «after three foreign general directors.»

At Friday’s concert, however, while Italy’s 12 opera houses and some conservatories provided the orchestra and choir, many of the soloists were not Italian – a sign of the opera’s global appeal.

«The universality of this heritage is demonstrated by the fact that there are Russians, there are Americans, there are French: here there is everything and they all sing in Italian», said Cecilia Gasdia, general director of the Arena di Verona Foundation and director soprano who made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1986. (She said she still sings, alone, every morning before work.)

“Opera is our national theatre, as Shakespeare is for the English,” said Roberto Abbondanza, baritone and president of Assolirica, an association of opera professionals who was central to the recognition campaign.

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