Widespread culture

Music and a good coffee to spread new languages and emotions. Musicologist Federico Fornoni tells us about the importance of Mumac’s invitation to Prima Diffusa at the Teatro alla Scala.

A shared purpose and widespread commitment. Sharing coffee culture with its many shades and contaminations is an art that Gruppo Cimbali explores with engaging events, such as a live broadcast on a big screen of the opening night at the Teatro alla Scala. MUMAC is the only company museum included among the locations of the Prima Diffusa organized by the City of Milan in collaboration with Rai and Teatro alla Scala. These locations will host the Attila opera by Giuseppe Verdi, directed by Riccardo Chailly, which will be broadcast live on 7th December.
“This eighth edition of Prima Diffusa confirms the validity of a choice that aims to share emotions and beauty with an ever larger audience thanks to a program which, with every edition, becomes increasingly rich and widespread,” said Milan’s Councillor for Culture, Filippo Del Corno. “This new edition brings La Scala’s opening night out of the theatre and spreads it through the city, enabling greater participation in this event, which is very important for our city.”

Widespread musicology
For one evening, the coffee machine museum becomes a lyric theatre, with an introduction by musicologist Federico Fornoni, a specialist in Italian opera, before the live screening from the Teatro alla Scala.
Federico Fornoni explains that the choice of the Teatro alla Scala to inaugurate the season with Attila, one of Verdi’s least popular works, is certainly important for the contribution that it can make to overall knowledge of the composer. If you do not take his complete catalogue of work into account, it is difficult to fully understand his best-known, most popular works. Attila was staged for the first time on 17th March 1846 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.
We are in the middle of what Verdi later defined as his “prison years”, during which the composer was continually asked to provide new works for the main opera houses in Italy. Between 1842 (when Nabucco, his third effort and first great success, was first staged) and 1850, he wrote 14 operas. Following the disappearance of the leading opera composers of the previous generation – Rossini retired in 1829, Bellini died in 1835 and Donizetti wrote his last work in 1844 –, Verdi became the new star of the Italian musical firmament.

Important discoveries
“In the present day,” says the musicologist, “listening possibilities have multiplied, allowing music to be enjoyed at virtually no cost. Obviously, few can afford to attend the “premiere” of at the Teatro alla Scala, but a project like the Prima Diffusa allows everyone to participate in what is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated cultural event in Italy. The Prima Diffusa will not only consist in the screening of the recital on 7th December, but will also feature a series of events throughout Milan. The aim is to flood the city with opera and to make the name of Verdi and his characters resound in the streets. We can thus involve a new audience, especially young people who would otherwise have little chance of coming into contact with these performances. I am convinced that if young people are given the opportunity to come into contact with these products, the reaction will only be positive. When young people go to rehearsals of a concert or an opera, it is often an overwhelming experience because they are experiencing something unfamiliar, which they may consider ‘boring’ for no reason, and instead discover to be wonderful. Such marvellous discoveries also apply to silent objects. A coffee machine can appear to say very little, yet if you can explain how it works, how it evolves, how it determines the quality of the product and its impact on society, it then becomes a talking object, a friend that we learn to know.”

Music and coffee
“For me, as an Italian,” concludes the musicologist, “coffee is above all a ritual. It constantly marks out certain moments of the day. And then there’s the social aspect. Having a coffee with a colleague or a friend is an opportunity to have a moment to ourselves. A whole world lies beyond the drink itself. After all, Bach composed several works to be performed in the cafés of Leipzig, including a cantata known as his ‘Coffee Cantata‘. We thus return to the discussion of the invasion of music and art in the city. Presenting Bach’s music while sipping a cup of coffee would be a way to bring it close to us, to make it part of our daily life.”
MUMAC is also notable in this regard: at EXPO 2015, it presented, to mark the opening and closing of the largest world’s fair, two live performances of Bach’s Coffee Cantata!

Friday 7th December 2018, 17.00
For the opening of the 2017-2018 La Scala season with the Attila opera directed by Riccardo Chailly, the museum will be open from 18.00 to 22.00, screening a live broadcast from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.