Italian orchestra creates multicultural Mozart

Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:15am EDT
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By Eliza Apperly

ROME (Reuters Life!) - An Italian orchestra mainly composed of migrants brings a multicultural version of Mozart's The Magic Flute to Rome on Wednesday to open the city's arts festival amid a debate over a crackdown on illegal migration.

The Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, named after a square in Rome's cosmopolitan Esquilino district, will kick off the 24th edition of the Romaeuropa arts festival with an explosive version of Mozart's 1791 opera about a lost prince on a quest to win love in a magical realm.

From a Cuban trumpeter to Tunisian vocalists, an American violinist to Senegalese drummers, the 20-nation orchestra blends musical styles from reggae to jazz to create a modern version of the opera classic, mingling fairytales, popular melodies, languages, rhythms and sounds.

"We wanted to tell the story of a contemporary Magic Flute which takes place in a modern multi-racial society," explains founder and artistic director, Italian-born Mario Tronco.

"Our musicians have incredibly diverse backgrounds, not just geographically ... From reggae to classical to pop and jazz, our music is continually referencing different cultures."

For Giovanni Pieraccini, the festival's president, the Orchestra's cross-cultural, multi-ethnic approach is "profoundly linked" to Romaeuropa's philosophy and of "extreme cultural and political importance."

Moves by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government to tighten laws on illegal migrants and send migrants intercepted at sea back to Libya have sparked an angry public debate in the Italy. The Catholic church compared those ignoring migrant suffering to those who ignored the Holocaust in World War II.

Piariccini hailed the Orchestra as a good example of the "unity of human nature" at a time when a "refusal toward acceptance" was becoming more prevalent.   Continued...