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Exclusive: Italian opera singers seek UNESCO protection

The financial crisis and the near-collapse of the Maggio Musicale in Florence have left opera singers fearing that their profession will be wiped out.  A group of activists have written to the nations’s president, asking him to seek United Nations protection for an art that has brought the world such joy. We are proud to bring the letter to world attention.



Cantori Professionisti d’Italia Italian Opera Soloists

Milan, May 2013

To His Excellence
The President of the Italian Republic
Hon. Giorgio Napolitano

Re: Situation regarding Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Italian Opera UNESCO World Heritage Candidacy Proposal

Honorable Mr. President,

We, the Board of Directors of “Cantori Professionisti d’Italia”, are writing to you as an association representing solo singers of lyric opera.

First of all, we would like to thank you for the affection and the spirit of sacrifice that you have shown towards our country in making yourself available for reelection, and wish to extend to you our congratulations and best wishes for the difficult work that, with a high sense of duty, you are about to perform.

Our message has been initiated during a dramatic and worrisome moment for our sector, hit by a very serious crisis, of which the situation of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, treasure of our country, is the paradigmatic peak. In fact, in recent days the distressing news of the risk of closure of this theatre and its associated festival has come to light.

As one cannot think of Paris without the Louvre or Berlin without the Philharmonie, it is similarly unthinkable that Florence, where in the XVII century lyric opera was born, could lose an institution that, for its prestigious history, has been admired even from abroad.

We, therefore, feel the need to hear on this your authoritative voice inviting all political parties to save the jobs and professional competences seriously threatened; also with the purpose of preventing great damage to the international image that would, in such way, be incurred upon the Italian culture.

The Italian theatre system has reached a point that is close to collapse and therefore requires an in depth and urgent governance reform of theatrical organizations, to give priority to the professionalism, competence and transparency of appointments, together with a serious policy of fiscal advantages for private patronage, as well as a sustainable policy, including the inclusion of the theatre world in the economic and touristic system.

The case of Florence is not, unfortunately, isolated and many other similar Institutions are fighting today for survival. Many theatrical institutions have been in a state of insolvency for several months now, and the reasons for this situation are profound, differ from case to case, and not always due exclusively to current unfavorable economic circumstances.
italian opera heritage

As citizens, belonging to the European Community, we cannot, however, avoid sharing with you our sense of embarrassment and inadequacy, sometimes, forgive our frankness , even of shame towards foreign colleagues and entertainment operators who, interested to come and work in our country, remain perplexed and unbelieving when realizing the dismantling and devaluation that our sector suffers.

On the other hand, it was recently reported by many media that Italy spends less than any other European country for culture. This is a paradox. Historically and traditionally, this sector should deserve adequate investments that, together with a rationalization of expenses, would give a concrete contribution to overcome the severe economic crisis that is gripping our country in these times.

For this purpose, it is necessary to raise awareness in the political world, that seems to have forgotten, as was demonstrated in the recent electoral campaign, that “Culture” means education, growth and therefore the future of our country. As citizens, we feel a committed and urgent need to believe that, one day, it will be possible to finally comprehend how much our sector is a resource for our country, despite the fact that the current political debate and even, recently, the decay of its language, do not comfort us in this hope.

Moreover, we believe that the crisis of political representation, its paralysis and the scarce attention paid to culture could be symptoms only apparently not connected, as one cannot avoid noticing its countermelody: the European countries that invest the most in our sector are those that have better addressed the economic crisis and have had a policy that, despite asperities and difficulties, develops constructive and dynamic forms of social interaction. That does not surprise us. In fact, the organization of arts produces thinking and, for that, bears the gift of building substantial elements where the conflicts of a society could be elaborated into a synthesis implying relationship and reciprocity.

That is why in this Italy, shaken and afraid, that sometimes seems to be losing its orientation for the strong reasons of “being together”, culture is the real card to play. In this field our nation has developed, over centuries, a competitive advantage that no globalization will be able to wipe away, as no policy of “delocalization” can be applied to it, it being strongly rooted in the territory and in the ancient, though stressed, identity conscience of our country.

We believe this socio-cultural identity must be preserved and renewed with the efforts of everybody.

In this perspective, therefore, “Cantori Professionisti d’Italia” have taken the initiative to propose the candidacy of Italian Lyric Opera as an Immaterial UNESCO World Heritage in order to underline that it is not only the most significant legacy of our country to the history of western music, but also that it constitutes part of the bone structure of western civilization.

To preserve with any means such patrimony is not only a duty, but also the privilege of Italy and of all Italians.

We have undertaken this battle for all, convinced, as Gadamer believes, that culture is the only good that, once shared, multiplies. Said battle is conducted for the many passionate individuals that support us and for those that consider us unproductive, for our fellow nationals and for those born outside of our country.

In addition to our conscious daily work, this is our contribution, as a group, to the Italian society in order to promote, with the means that we have, its development and its welfare.

Even small hands can indicate grand vistas, but if your hands would be added to ours, many more individuals could grasp the importance of such shores.

We thank you in advance for the attention that we hope you will wish to dedicate to these lines.

With respect.

Bruno Taddia,

For the CPI Board:
Roberto Abbondanza, Micaela Carosi, Angela Nisi, Alessandra Palomba, Federico Sacchi, Rosanna Savoia, Bruno Taddia

C.P.I. Cantori Professionisti d’Italia, sede legale c/o Studio Scoz, Via Abamonti 1, 20129, Milano. Tel. 02/29534091

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