Riccardo Muti has written an open letter to the Italian government asking for theatres and concert halls to be reopened. Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, turned down his request.
Italian theatres originally closed in March, and then slowly reopened since summer. They have now closed again after COVID cases spiked. A number of opera halls have had COVID outbreaks in recent weeks.
“Closing concert halls and theatres is a grave decision,” wrote Muti in his letter. “The impoverishment of the mind and spirit is dangerous and also harms physical health.
“Such a decision does not take into account the sacrifice and suffering of thousands of artists and workers from all sectors of the performing arts who are insulted by this decision and are left fearful for their futures.”
He added that: “The theatres are governed by people who are well aware of the anti-Covid regulations and the safety measures indicated, and rules have always been meticulously respected.”
Conte responded: “It is a decision that we did not take lightly because we are aware that all the protagonists of the entertainment world…have been suffering enormous difficulties for many months now.
“We intend to return as soon as possible to enjoy these emotions in company, sharing the silent harmony that is established in the presence of a neighbour, even if he is unknown.”