The intense experience of this year’s Autumn Conference opened with the warm welcome of the institutions of the city of Bergamo, the perfect demonstration of how much opera and opera-related events mean in terms of prestige for a city.
We had the chance to re-live the difficult but hope-filled story of Bergamo during the pandemic. Francesco Micheli, Artistic Director of Fondazione Teatro Donizetti, confessed that when the pandemic was spreading and killing so many people, he felt like our work was almost irrelevant. Watching the pictures and the videos of the Bergamo tragedy maybe made us agree.
But Art allowed people to say goodbye to the dead during the commemoration event on 28 June 2020, particularly the moving performance of Donizetti’s Requiem.
Art also gave people hope in a difficult moment: the story of the reopening of Teatro Donizetti, the beautiful theatre we had the chance to work in during some of the sessions, after an 80 million euro renovation (put on ice by the pandemic), is like a metaphor for a long, and sometimes difficult, but also much-desired rebirth.
As Francesco pointed out, the theatre didn’t give up, because people asked the artistic community not to. The pandemic helped to spread opera all over the world (Donizetti Opera Tube reached 43 different countries) and people realised they needed Donizetti’s music. His life journey teaches all of us to hope and not to give up, especially to young people, still now, with projects dedicated to them such us Citofono Donizetti and Opera Wow.
At the end of the panel, and at the end of this beautiful, intense journey in Bergamo, we can say that maybe it’s true that what we do might not seem that relevant sometimes, but, as one of our mentors told us: ‘It’s true, we don’t save lives but at least we change them’.
Magid El-Bushra (Royal Opera House Covent Garden), Alessia Girgenti (Teatro Massimo Palermo), Anouck Rosier (Opera Zuid Maastricht