It may well be curtains for opera in Italy…
La Scala opera house, Milan
From Opera News:
He may look quite operatic, but Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hardly an opera buff — and accordingly, the Italian opera scene is definitely not thriving. This is true of the nation’s culture in general: the powerful minister of finance, Giulio Tremonti, flatly stated that one cannot eat culture and proceeded to slash funding for the arts, education and research. The fact that Pompeii is collapsing without any substantial changes being made in preservation policies is a prime example of Italy’s neglect of its own cultural heritage. The governor of the Veneto region complained about too much attention being paid to “a few old stones.” Berlusconi said nothing at all.
The owner of three major commercial TV networks, Berlusconi views culture as tiresome, dusty and ultimately useless, as opposed to the glittering world of prime-time TV. He repeatedly tries to peddle the idea that the country should be a kind of Truman Show, populated by attractive people sporting huge smiles, with no need for study or hard work. The only values that matter seem to boil down to making (possibly easy) money.
Since Berlusconi took leadership of Italian politics, the country has witnessed an escalating war on culture, fueled by the media that Berlusconi controls and disguised as an attempt to modernize the nation. Because he doesn’t receive a large number of votes from people in the arts, the Italian Prime Minister wields his power against them, and opera companies are shouldering the greatest burden.