After a break only in 2020 due to the pandemic, Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala returns to open its theatre season on the feast of Saint Ambrose, a tradition since 1951, when music director Victor De Sabata moved the date of the opening of the season from the 26th to December 7.
This year is the turn of Verdi’s “Macbeth”. The 1847 opera will be conducted by Riccardo Chailly, with a cast including soprano Anna Netrebko, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Luca Salsi. “We have the best possible cast, the best maestro, and all the technicians have worked to do their best, without compromise of artistic nature,” said Dominique Meyer, Superintendent and Artistic Director of the Teatro Alla Scala, during the press presentation.
For the past ten years, La Scala has been committed to taking the premiere outside the theatre with the Prima Diffusa. For the week before the opening, the theater has planned a rich calendar of events that will accompany the season-opening culminating with the live broadcast of the opera in cinemas and other venues around the city.
This year, it’s back on a grand scale. More than forty theatres, cultural institutions, and unconventional venues will host over eighty concerts, performances, exhibitions, conferences, and talks. On December 7, thirty-four theatres will be screening live from the theatre. As always, admission to the live performances and the broadcasting is free of charge.
Live or recorded guides will precede the screenings. Produced by Accademia Teatro Alla Scala, the introductions will explain the show so that even opera novices can understand it.
The week-long initiative opens with “Al Castello di Macbeth” at the Castello Sforzesco (December 1, 6 pm), a theatrical-ish lecture, conceived and curated by the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala based on the opera of Macbeth with the participation of professor and musicologist Fabio Sartorelli. Excerpts chosen and performed by young actors and the young soloists of the La Scala Academy will help the audience understand Verdi’s work based on William Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
New this year is the show “Macbeth Unplugged” by Tournée da Bar with Davide Lorenzo Palla and Irene Timpanaro and the live musical accompaniment of Tiziano Cannas Aghedu, staged in three different evenings at Santeria Paladini 8, at Spirit de Milan, and Mare Culturale Urbano. In this play, comic, lyrical, and dramatic moments alternate, and the actors will guide the audience inside the secrets hidden between the lines of this great Shakespearean classic.
The Cineteca Milano at the Museo Interattivo del Cinema will host an opera recital (December 2, 6.30 pm), with the extraordinary participation of actor Neri Marcorè and the soloists from La Scala’s academy who will pay tribute to the works of Giuseppe Verdi’s first season of composition.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the festival, the headquarters of Accademia del Teatro Alla Scala will host the exhibition “Accademia Aperta – Dieci Anni di Prima Diffusa”. The exhibition retraces the highlights of the event from 2011 to the present day through photographic material, video collages, costumes, and stage elements. The exhibit will feature a demonstration of theatrical hair and make-up to bring the audience closer to the backstage of the show.
Another special exhibition titled “Si colmi il calice” is produced by WOW Spazio Fumetto on Viale Campania and is dedicated to the most important comic strip transpositions of Shakespeare’s tragedy and Verdi’s opera. For the entire month of December, the Museo Interattivo del Cinema will host the film program “Macbeth and other Shakespearean titles” with twenty-three film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work.
This edition will also explore the debate on social sustainability and inclusion which are two founding values of the “Prima Diffusa” project.
In particular, there will be two talks on this topic. The first will be held at the Puntozero Beccaria Theatre at the Cesare Beccaria Juvenile Penal Institute (December 2, 6 pm), with the participation of the Councillor for Culture of the City of Milan, Tommaso Sacchi, and Mr. Meyer. The second one (December 9, 6pm) will be hosted at the MUDEC Auditorium. The latest generation of professionals will discuss the issues of sustainable development for artistic productions. Speakers will include set designer Valentina Volpi, costume designer, set designer and director Gianluca Falaschi, La Scala’s manager Mario Pan, and light designer Valerio Tiberi.
“It’s a team effort,” says Dominque Meyer, thanking the Edison energy company, only sponsor of the initiative. “We always talk about competition between theaters but I think we have to work together for our common cause: culture,” he added.
“People think that opera is a closed world, accessible only to experts,” Meyer continued. “I am against that. We have to fight against the idea that opera is for a small elite. Opera is for everyone.”