The Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has announced an Italian contribution to the reconstruction of the Mariupol theatre.
While this positive gesture of solidarity has been welcomed, journalist Sigfrido Ranucci, in next week’s episode of the television programme Report, will look at the Italian theatres that are closed with many becoming derelict. 428 in all are closed, half of which are publicly owned by the state or local councils.
The worst affected regions are Lombardy with 57 closed theatres and Sicily with 59.
D’AOSTA VALLEY: 1
TRENTINO SOUTH TYROL: 5
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA: 5
EMILIA ROMAGNA: 23
No one knows the cost of this abandoned historical and architectural cultural heritage as the Directorate General for Entertainment of the Ministry of Culture has no recent survey. The department has financed €420 million for performances in 2022, but nothing at all for infrastructure. The separate Reconstruction and Resilience Plan in Italy has not allocated anything for theatres, and many are waiting to collapse.
Italy has more theatres than any other country because even a small town would have its theatre, often small proscenium arch theatres, with boxes, frescoes, and a chandelier, just as it would have its castle, town square and church. The Unification of Italy did not come about until the mid-19th century and so many regions were competing to boast the highest tower or largest cupola, and theatres were central to Italian cultural life and they were the object of civic pride.
Not all the 428 theatres are architectural gems, but many need to be protected before they disappear. Maintaining them is expensive, but many restored theatres have found a new life by combining live performances with conferences and video events.
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.