Addio, Abbado

January 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

Today happened something that made me fall in love with Italy all over again, and made me proud to be in the middle of this crazy country.

Today, Milano paid tribute to Claudio Abbado, who passed away last week after a long fight with his illness.  At 18:oo, the doors of the Scala were opened and the Filarmonica della Scala (dir. Daniel Barenboim) played la Marcia Funebre from Beethoven’s Eroica to an empty theatre.  Speakers were set up on the balcony of the opera house and live streamings were available online and on the television for those who could not personally participate.


I arrived at 5 o’clock and perched myself on a bench, observing the crowd for an hour and eavesdropping on all of the conversations about the maestro.  After half an hour, the crowd seemed to double… and then double again.  By the time that the concert started, there were close to eight thousand people in the Piazza della Scala; mostly elderly couples, but also some students and kids perched on their parents shoulders.  It was a very strong and positive feeling, to be in the middle of these people that have come together to bid a final addieu to an Italian icon.  Uplifting and beautiful, this sign of respect to the things that this nation continues to hold close to its heart: culture and music and the past.Scala

As for the transmission itself, I cannot find adequate words.  The dynamics blew me away- 20 minutes of uninterrupted goosebumps (although maybe that had something to do with the freezing temperatures?), and a heart that was soaring high above me.  Definitely a memory that I will carry with me for a very long time.

After the performance, I noticed the olive tree that someone left in front of the theatre in honour of Abbado’s wish for a greener Milano.  Attached was a note that said «Piantiamo questo olivo, chiedendo che il sindaco di Milano realizzi il sogno del maestro di piantarne altri 89.999».  This was in reference to what Abbado said in 2010, promising that he would return to the Scala to direct a couple of concerts after his departure from the theatre.  Last time, there were funds missing.  This time, the maestro is missing.

But maybe we can all go plant a tree in Milano anyways?

Either way, thank you, Abbado, and thank you, Italy.

(if you want more photos, here is a link to the Corriere della Sera, who had access to better angles and equipment than me)


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