My wife and I have spent our lives travelling and usually we've returned home exhausted by the weight of our bags full of books and music we'd bought. I could only glance at part of this vast library as there was never enough time available. Now we have an unexpected oasis of calm in our family. It gives time to reflect and mature. Maturity is not something that comes automatically with age but by your ability to understand things. For me, this is very important. I have rejected many work offers because there wasn't enough time.
I have daily telephone contacts with theatre management and musicians. We have talked a great deal and we are all very worried about the future. This tragedy is a cosmic tsunami. Theatre is all about coming together and sharing so it needs physical closeness between musicians, chorus and orchestra. It's hard to imagine how we will be able to come together in the future. We're trying to think of solutions. From time to time I remember the success of that last rehearsal for Salome on 26 February…
Each day we try to come up with new answers, but I'm certain that the theatre world won't return to as it was before – this is a universal tragedy and we will change.
These last days I've been studying the Russian repertoire and thinking about Scriabin and his tormented existence, and also Rachmaninov: biographies of their lives make us reflect on the importance of sharing profound dramas. Often, great music has sprung from human dramas.
Music is a way of distracting us; it can soothe pain. It gives me a positive charge and creates some distance from what I see on television every day.
I think of my parents and their way of thinking. I remember what they told us when we were young and I'm happy that they left us without seeing the world as it is today where we can't even greet our loved ones. It's horrendous that we can't even hold funerals.
We believe ourselves to be so advanced and yet in front of such a tragedy we are fragile. Sometimes I wonder what we've done to deserve this. I hope that art can re-establish itself as something approachable and close to people.
My garden borders that of my son so, always maintaining the correct distance, we can share our feelings and chat, also with our grandchildren who are very engaged in what's going on. I believe that faith can also be of help, as can love, which is essential. I was very moved to see the Pope in that empty piazza. But God is within us; faith is an act of individual belief.
In Protestant countries, faith is more interior, and I share the statements of so many priests who respond to their congregation who ask why the churches are closed by saying that they must seek God within themselves not only through a minister of the church.
I remember [conducting a mass] to celebrate an anniversary of Pope Paul VI, a mass written by my father [Luciano]…There are so many memories I am reliving these days.
Riccardo Chailly was talking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
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.
Thank you Maestro. For your insight, your thoughts, your feelings and your guidance. It is my hope, indeed my prayer that someway somehow we shall be able to come together and make music again. For it is in experiencing it together that communication takes flight. “In bocca al Lupo!”