MILAN (Reuters) – Giuseppe Verdi’s “Macbeth” kicked off La Scala’s opera season before hundreds of spectators on Tuesday just as the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is again forcing many theaters elsewhere in Europe to shut their doors.
Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and celebrities attended the premiere that marks the opening of Milan’s cultural calendar.
While Italy’s cinemas and theatres reopened to the public in late April, the government on Monday again restricted access to an array of venues, including theatres, for the unvaccinated.
“When you see so many great theatres closed, like the Vienna State Opera, those in Munich, Dresden and Leipzig, I have to say we are lucky… This year’s season opening is a sort of miracle,” said La Scala’s artistic director Dominique Meyer.
The audience and orchestra members wore masks, while the actors and choir performed standing at a distance, but the gala dinner that usually followed the performance was cancelled.
This year opener “is a symbol of a restart for Italy as a whole,” said James Bradburne, general director of Milan’s Brera art gallery.
The opera, based on William Shakespeare’s tragic play, tells the story of a Scottish general who, goaded on by his power-hungry wife, murders the king and takes the throne.
Italian baritone Luca Salsi starred as Macbeth, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko thrilled as Lady Macbeth, and Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov was Banquo, the friend that Macbeth has murdered.
Though “Macbeth” is set in the 11th century, director Davide Livermore staged the opera in a modern city, using augmented reality.
The opera won a 12-minute ovation and a stage strewn with flowers, with a few boos for the contemporary interpretation.
“The reopening of La Scala fills me with joy,” fashion designer Giorgio Armani said.
The opera will run until Dec. 29.
($1 = 0.8862 euros)
(Reporting by Sara Rossi, editing by Agnieszka Flak and Gareth Jones)