COMO, Italy – As Maestro Vanni Moretto walked across the stage, the only sound he could hear was the echo of his footsteps as he took center stage in front of his orchestra. He turned to face the 858 empty seats at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa and awkwardly tilted his head, first left then right, acknowledging the unseen audience. There is silence haunting the empty spaces of the stalls and the highlands. Taking off his mask, he signals the start of the symphony, and the music begins.
Twelve months after Italy began its first lockdown, following the cluster of COVID-19 infections in the northern industrial area, composer Milan, orchestra conductor and violinist Vanni Moretto summed up the situation in one word – sadness. It is grim to say that cinemas remain closed as we enter the second year of the pandemic. Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franchesini initially had high hopes for the ongoing live stream, but his proposal on ‘Cultural Netflix’ was considered by many in the industry as pure madness or “total madness”.
“We are tired at the moment, and demotivated,” said Moretto. “The initial enthusiasm for reinventing our work via streaming has slowed down. You can’t simply perform a Shostakovich symphony, for example, in an empty theater. That Magic moment the first note, in front of a live audience, has been stripped of both the orchestra and the audience. This is disappointing. ”
‘The magico moment of the first note, in front of a live audience, has been stripped of both the orchestra and the audience.’
Nearly a year when cinemas, theaters and museums first closed to the public, La Scala in Milan, Teatro Sociale di Como along with many others across the country lit up their buildings in an attempt to highlight the plight of an industry. felt left in the dark. This initiative also serves as a plea to leaders to think about our mental health where, as Gandhi put it, “the culture of a nation resides.”
Government officials, however, had other things on their mind. Former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte felt the need to resign following a dispute over how to allocate the € 209 billion ($ 249 billion) he got from Europe, which is 28% of all EU rescue funds. President Sergio Mattarella has since put his trust in former head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi to help the country emerge from its political and economic crisis.
Vaccinations start here on December 27th. Currently, Pfizer
and German partner BioNTech SE
two-dose vaccine, and AstraZeneca
a single-dose vaccine by booster injection 12 weeks earlier is available here. More than 1.6 million have been fully vaccinated.
As of Monday, more than 3 million Italians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 99,785 people have died from the coronavirus, the sixth highest death toll per country since the pandemic began.
Prime Minister Draghi’s new government was sworn in last month, in what he described as a “difficult moment for Italy.” He not only plans to defeat the pandemic, solve vaccinations, solve citizen problems and rebuild the country, but the agenda is green too. On this front, the pandemic will certainly help given that many of us are now being given clues about the efficiency of online meetings instead of getting on a plane to meet the boss in Naples or Rome.
However, this may not bode well for the world of culture that the Deputy Secretary for Cultural Heritage claims, Lucia Borgonzoni, haven’t read the book for years of pleasure. The priority, perhaps, remains elsewhere as the pandemic continues to penetrate the region. Experts predict that the English variant will become dominant by mid-March, while health official Silvio Brusaferro is optimistic that the Brazilian and South African strains can still be contained.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza also hopes, even though there is a delay in vaccination. Talks have started about vaccine production in Italy, with a projected time frame of four to six months. Authorities hope to achieve herd immunity this summer and then move on to the final phase of shooting in the last quarter of 2021, but according to a weekly index published by the Hume Foundation, we need to vaccinate four times the current rate. for that to happen.
To speed things up, the Ministry of Health has given the green light for the possibility of skipping a booster vaccine for those who have recently been exposed to the virus. This is based on the assumption that these people have developed certain immunity. It is clear that all options are being examined so that there could be some easing of the boundaries that continue to define our daily existence. Lombardy in the north remains the region with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with an oscillating infection rate currently at 6.7%.
As a result, restaurants and bars continue to close at 6pm. The 22:00 national curfew, in effect from November 2020, remains in effect. This is the time when the shutters are closed, and the streets are mostly silent until 5 a.m. when they lift.
In order for no curfew, we must have less than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the region, which the government calls the ‘white’ zone. In fact, every part of Italy is periodically colored – the lighter the color, the less casing.
While this color coding idea avoids a national lockdown like the one on 9 March 2020 and provides some areas of respite from the intensity of government action, living with uncertainty can be troubling. It’s like Kaa Rudyard Kipling coming back to life every two weeks to cast her optical spell, turning us from red to orange to yellow and back to an even deeper orange. That’s the number of Como colors since the start of the year. This is enough to make your head spin.
“It looks like Rudyard Kipling’s Kaa comes to life every two weeks to cast its optical spell, turning us from red to orange to yellow and back to even deeper orange. ‘
And the head is not the only thing that starts, as the Italians say, turn. People get frustrated. Over the past year, relatives have died, funerals have been missed, and people in general have been scaled back. Whether COVID is positive or not, physical isolation is real. And for young people, this is very destabilizing. The constant threat of turning red loomed large, and they were under immense psychological stress the longer this lasted.
According to Stefano Vicari, head of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesù in Rome, the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide among those aged 12 to 18 has risen sharply, especially since the second wave of the pandemic. by October 2020. The recent increase in police patrols on the busy square in Como on Saturday night is further evidence of a growing social malaise that needs to be watched. Street fights have broken out between local youths, and a similar scene has been witnessed in Milan.
With the region’s recent color change, high school students here in Como are returning to their full computer screens, only returning to the classroom on alternate weeks. The longer their virtual course lasts, the higher the dropout rate, with those most disadvantaged economically most at risk. And just as some people can’t wait to get back to normal, there are others who have become accustomed to online interactions, and are genuinely afraid to return to their previous routine.
Back at the Teatro Verdi of Pisa, the show, as it should be, continues. “The damage has been done, to what extent we still can’t understand, but over time I think we’ll see that it’s significant,” repeated Maestro Vanni Moretto. He presided over the orchestra with a rising crescendo of strings, horns, and oboes before marking the end of the symphony. He turned again to face the silence of the empty theater and to recognize the faceless crowd. Swinging back to the musicians, he does the closing gesture of the concert and asks them to bow. He quickly left. As shown by Moretto’s curtain concert and curtain call, there is a sense of hope and uneasiness.
One year after our national lockdown, life here in Italy is neither normal nor new.
Alison Fottrell is a teacher and writer based in Como, Italy.
This essay is part of the MarketWatch series, ‘Deliveries from the pandemic. ‘