At 10am hundreds of friends, colleagues, and neighbours, including many dancers and doctors, gathered in the sweltering heat to say their goodbyes to Walter Albisetti, a much loved figure who died tragically three days ago.
Albisetti, who was only 56 years old, was for twenty years the medical advisor for the La Scala Ballet Company in Milan, a university professor, surgeon and orthopaedist. He was part of the commission who chose which children to accept into the ballet school at La Scala.
Everyone at La Scala knew Albisetti, most had been treated by him at some time, and he carried out hundreds of delicate operations that can mean the continuation or end of a dance career. He gave much of his time for projects in Africa, and a small African delegation attended his funeral. He had also formed a small bio-agricultural company with his daughter to promote local produce from the land he inherited from his father in the nineties. It was on this land that he lost his life, as had his father twenty years before.
Albisetti senior drowned as he was collecting rainwater from a cistern on his small-holding in the province of Lecco, and the younger Albisetti was cutting a laurel hedge with a motor saw, when he probably slipped, cutting through the femoral artery of his left leg. He had tried to stop the blood loss using his shirt as a tourniquet around his upper thigh, but to no use.
Although his university students are on holiday, as are the La Scala dancers, there was not room for everyone in the church at Cernusco Lombardone, and a hundred or so remained outside to await the coffin as it left the church.
There was much emotion for this unexpected and needless death of a highly respected and talented doctor, a friend to many, and a generous human being.
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.