The Sanremo Festival is surrounded by controversy every year: who has been chosen to be the host; its anti-feminist slant with showgirls, split-skirts and lots of cleavage; singers who've been excluded; singers who've been included…
This year tv host and interviewer Fabio Fazio will present the festival. Fazio is a dowdily dressed, middle-aged man who interviews Nobel prize winners and authors of art books, has been responsabile for bringing anti-mafia campaigner Roberto Saviano regularly to the screen, and has as his sidekick the very popular comic Luciana Littizzetto who doesn't let her cleavage interfere with her irony.
This very different approach has resulted in some surprising guests with Daniel Barenboim and Daniel Harding both gracing the stage of Teatro Ariston.
Barenboim will play a Chopin nocturne and a waltz; well known and popular, but certainly not pop. La Repubblica asked him whether he was familiar with pop music:
Not really. What I know is due to my eldest son who is a hip-hop performer well-known in Germany. When I was younger I met The Beatles. It was in London, and the group was about to break up. They asked me thousands of questions about Beethoven, and I asked them thousnads about songs. I learnt that pop artists have an energy that sometimes classical musicians lack, maybe through an excess of professionalism or the consequence of routine. The encounter with The Beatles was as stimulating as when I met Stravinsky in Rome in 1952.
When asked if this was a difficult time for classical music he replied,
The importance of classical music has been diminished by the lack of musical education in the schools. We have a smattering of history, geography and maths, but no music. Also, in times of crisis it's important to remember that art isn't a luxury but something we can't live without. The only way to combat this is to radically change education. We don't save money by closing theatres and forcing arts institutions to close, but by investing seriously in young people; in this way, when we can't emerge from an economic crisis only by curbing losses and without creating new jobs…
Freud said that we don't make art to forget reality, but in order to create a bigger and better reality.
However, at the moment of writing, one of Fazio's musical heroes, Andrea Bocelli, won't be performing.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.