I am deeply grateful to my country. I owe everything to Italy. Therefore it hurts me to see the country like this. I feel the need to speak up, to underline some of the perils and the opportunities as I see them.
With these words, Italian maestro Riccardo Muti stepped in to the current political fray: a complex, confusing and infuriating situation that has left Italy without a government over a month after the elections.
I do not want to make judgement on politicians, but the level we’ve descended to over the last years is alarming,
Muti told Aldo Cazzullo in the Corriere della Sera.
In my line of work I may have to follow ten different musical lines which intersect in counterpoint, but the result is harmony; if you put just three politicians on TV they immediately start yelling at each other and no-one can understand anything. I believe in the dialectic, in confronting ideas, and in respect.
Beppe Grillo, the Italian comic who formed the extremely popular Five Star Movement via the internet, is against confrontation – in fact he has forbidden his Grillini to give interviews to the Italian media and they don’t allow questions at press conferences. The M5S however has 163 of the 945 elected members of parliament, though none has any experience of legislation or government. Muti says,
Grillo reminds me of Iago, who in Othello says “I am only a critic…”, but anyone is capable of criticizing without giving credible solutions. If I conducted an orchestra rehearsal only saying what doesn’t work we wouldn’t get anywhere. Italians are tired of the old political system, but now they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and someone to guide them to the light. Instead this feels more like a dictatorship, an adventure that Italy has already experienced in the not too distant past, and one which ended tragically.
Many commentators are calling Grillo the Dictator of the Internet. He has already “dis-communicated” dissenters among the ranks. And as a comic, the use of swearing comes naturally into his discourses.
This swearing horrifies me. A sign of degradation.
But Grillo doesn’t just have the, comparatively young, ‘internet population’ backing him. Dario Fo, for example, is a number one supporter, and many other artists are on his side.
Everyone is free to follow what feels right. I have noted, however, that we have a rather distorted idea of the artist: saying that one ‘is’ an artist is different to ‘being’ an artist. Being an artist does not mean being wild, a bit crazy, with a beard and moustache, throwing words around willy-nilly, always gesticulating with violence and insulting those you’re addressing. I do not expect everyone to be like Bach, solemnly sitting at his organ to compose works to be delivered to God and humanity, and conceiving a whole load of children during his breaks! Toscanini is for me the model of an artist: a man of great simplicity, elegance and decency. Or Verdi. Men for whom the form is content.
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.