Last night under a rain-soaked Teatro alla Scala with the echoes of protesters across Piazza della Scala, Guy Cassiers' new production of Die Walkure opened the Milanese opera house's 2010/11 season to a coiffed and couture'd crowd. Before Daniel Barenboim, "Maestro Scaligero", wielded his baton to deliver a stunning interpretation of Wagner's opera (more on that later) he addressed the crowd. Speaking in Italian, he briefly talked about the uncertain future of Italian opera and Europe's shakey (at best) culture scene. Pimping or earnest? OC's in the middle, but Scala's crowds nor the loggione disagreed and Barenboim's speech was met with wild applause, bravos and even an old lady from the gallerie shouted "Viva il presidente".
Barenboim was speaking, elegantly, in protest of Decreto Bondi -- named after Silvio Berlusconi's Culture Minister, Sandro Bondi, who was conveniently absent for la prima (he said he was detained due to voting...you can read OC's analysis on Decreto Bondi here) -- which passed into law over the summer, Barenboim said that he was very happy and honored to be leading La Scala for La prima and to be "Maestro Scaligero" of the opera house, but all of his colleagues have been worried about the future of opera and culture in Italy and Europe.
He then quoted Article 9 of the Constitution, which references the rights of the Italian Republic to promote culture and scientific research. Clip above of the event.