Riccardo Muti: Don’t use theatres as vaccination centres

Riccardo Muti: Don’t use theatres as vaccination centres


norman lebrecht

January 01, 2021

The maestro tells Corriere della Serra that we should not confuse pleasure with pain:

I am against the proposals of some virologists to use closed theatres to administer the vaccine. It would be a convenient choice, but theatres should be reopened to give young people the chance to thrive on culture. I have read outrageous statements about the art world, not motivated by malice but by ignorance, which is more serious.

More on gramilano.com



  • Alexander says:

    at the moment the orchestra is taking a break, wonderful streaming from Vienna … Happy 2021 to all in the orchestra and Riccardo Muti 😉 … and a very happy New Year of Bull to y’all 😉 ….
    me, drinking Mumm champagne, cause its name is consonant to the sound “mooo”; )

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Of course closed theatres can be used as vaccination centres, if the locations are appropriate.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Ridiculous statement from a man totally out of touch with society. Why on earth not put an empty building to good use? Along with churches, cinemas, etc..

    • Wooden jack says:

      Theatres churches cinemas should not empty in the first place they should be in full use and not closed by this scamdemic

      • William Safford says:

        Unless you live in one of the few countries that have done an excellent job of controlling the pandemic, you are wrong.

        If you are in the U.S., then you are about as wrong as you can be.

    • violinist says:

      When Muti speaks one can easily assume it is
      not only from ignorance that he speaks but from the belief that he thinks he is Muti the band leader with
      special insights. Sad case of being always surrounded with noise.

  • Alma Regina says:

    I doubt, there is a shortage of suitable locations but if authorities wishes to humiliate the arts even a bit moore, then the theaters at least could combine it with some creative self-promotion for the re-opening times!

  • Occamsrazor says:

    Why waste time and not retrofit theaters, churches etc ….
    The remainder of this comment has been redacted as offensive and the commenter banned.

  • Fake David Letterman says:


    30) “If only legal ballots are counted, I won the 2020 US / 2005 La Scala election.”

    29) Both staunchly support democracy & collegiality as the North Star in society / musical institutions

    28) “The New York Times gave me a bad review? Fake News, folks. Fake news.”

    27) Genuinely believe they have done more for African Americans than anyone since MLK (Platinum Plan / CSO AAN)

    26) Trump University / Riccardo Muti Academy

    25) Don’t like the British but brag about their meetings with the Queen

    24) Cannot wrap their heads around why Congress / The Board of Directors exist in the first place and how in the world these institutions dare making decisions without their permission

    23) “My Administration / My (X) Orchestra is the best the world has ever seen” (X = Philarmonia, Philadelphia, La Scala, Chicago depending on which year he said it)

    22) Hours spent every day checking news coverage about themselves

    21) “My son-in-law is so good at what he does”

    20) Donors who are not clapping and cheering are publicly scolded and can’t sit close to them at the gala (if they are ever let in again)

    19) Believe that the glorious institutions they lead should used to promote the family-owned business (hotels / record label)

    18) One had/ the other has a reality TV show with apprentices in it

    17) Inner circle made solely of yes-men & women who kiss ass or perform equivalent maneuvers daily to get in and stay in

    16) Vladimir/Valery is best work-buddy

    15) Sons manage their business affairs

    14) Believe that they did more for World Peace than Obama (Mideast Treaty / Roads of Friendship) and that the Deep State must be sabotaging their Nobel Prize win

    13) “My daughter is such a beautiful woman!!!”

    12) MAGA / MIGA

    11) “I am the best President/Conductor in history, better than Lincoln/Karajan. I deserved four more years at this job, didn’t I? Incredibly unfair, people.”

    10) Sean Hannity & Tucker Carlson / Howard Reich & Valerio Cappelli

    9) Believe there is nothing wrong with ‘locker room talk’

    8) “How does my hair look?”

    7) Outside of rallies / rehearsals & concerts, 90% of the President /Music Director schedule booked as “Executive Time”. (Cabinet members/Admin staff can’t find them or talk to them)

    6) “We can’t stop the Country/Culture, we just can’t … We must hold our rallies/concerts as planned!”

    5) “I look handsome on TV, don’t I!”

    4) Neither man can stop leaks in his own Administration

    3) Both have beautiful smiles

    2) Both got ‘impeached’ (US House 2019 / La Scala Orchestra & Admin Staff 2005)

    X) [XXX – Redacted upon advice of Alfonso Signorini and my lawyers – XXX]

    1) “Masks are for the weak”

    Happy New Year everyone!!!

    • Luca says:

      P.S. Muti didn’t need a mask for the New Year concert because Austria has stringent testing rules – you’ll have noticed that the musicians all sat at a normal distance and none were masked.

    • sam says:

      That someone could come up with 30 points in common between Muti and Trump suggests a certain pathological obsession with both men that only decades of psychoanalysis could unearth.

      Good luck. And try to think about something else in 2021.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Some of the items are funny, except that Donald Trump’s actions have cost thousands of lives. That is not funny.

    • Pinco says:

      The poor sob believes that Karajan was the greatest conductor in history () and that Trump is to Lincoln as Muti is to Karajan. Once again you forgot your medication.

    • BUNGA BUNGA says:

      But the comparison is not the most correct because it is better to compare Muti with Berlusconi, they have more in common and people in Italy and La Scala and in other European countries understand the things that are the same.
      It would be good to write the list again in that way for the Top 10 as it is too long for you and the number 1 will be very clear!
      Buon Anno!

    • justsaying says:

      some of these are fair but one really isn’t: Muti does actually teach something at his academy.

    • Maestro51 says:

      One thing to consider though. Trump was the worst president in the history of the world and Muti was one of the better conductors we’ve had and without a doubt in the top two at this time in the world. You obviously have not been to a concert of Muti’s in many years. You should check one out.

    • Hayne says:

      Ah, the power of the MSM…

    • Old Man in the Midwest says:

      Don’t forget #31: When listening with eyes closed, both personalities are ultimately quite boring and void of true meaningful content.

    • philadelphian says:

      I would add two more:
      – “you-know-I-am-automatically-attracted-to” and when-you-are-a-star-they-let-you-do-it” type mentality
      – Inexplicably, they retain a vast mass of followers, no matter what they do!

    • Jack says:

      You missed the most glaring one: logorrhea, that is excessive and inchoerent talkativeness or wordiness. The two men can’t keep their mouth shut. Thank God Muti does not know tweet

  • Chiara says:

    I think that some of the Muti hatred is getting out of hand and becoming a tad obsessive.
    I enjoyed this morning’s concert, strange though it was without an audience and must have been even stranger for the musicians.


    “I am against the proposals of some virologists to use closed theatres to administer the vaccine. It would be a convenient choice, but theatres should be reopened to give young people the chance to thrive on culture.” Can’t he grasp the idea that the sooner this virus is defeated the sooner theatres can be “reopened to give young people the chance to thrive on culture.” And what about older people? I appreciate that there may be other venues where the vaccine could be administered, but why leave a capacious building closed when it could be doing something really worthwhile?

    • SVM says:

      How much sooner is “sooner”, exactly? It has been 10 months already, and there is still no definite exit strategy. Meanwhile, cancers go undetected, mental health deteriorates, people with heart problems are dying because they are too scared to go near a hospital, and many people languish in pain because their so-called ‘elective’ surgery has been postponed indefinitely. Governments around the world impose and renew ever more restrictions, heedless of the harm they are causing, and yet COVID-19 still proliferates… ‘lockdowns’ do not appear to be working very well. We must, of course, do what we can to enable the vulnerable to shield, but this does not necessitate crude ‘lockdown’ measures that cause more harm than they prevent.

      And does anybody really believe that it will be possible to eradicate COVID-19 completely (other than in particularly isolated places)?

      • William Safford says:

        It’s important to recognize that the battle to eradicate COVID-19 was lost before March of last year. The pandemic spread, detectable but mostly undetected, until it was too late to confine and eradicate, if it was possible to begin with.

        This was a failure of massive import.

        Lockdowns are part of our attempt to slow down the spread of the pandemic, until herd immunity via widespread vaccination can be achieved. It is a move of desperation, when other approaches were inadequate, or, worse, never attempted.

        In the U.S., much of the blame for this failure lies in the tiny little hands of the Orange Enemy of the People. He was first alerted to the danger in January. He purposely ignored it for months, until it was too late to contain. As a leader in this pandemic, he has been an utter failure, an uber-loser.

        We now have over 300,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Compare this with South Korea, which has not yet reached 1,000. If we had the same death rate as South Korea, we would be at about 6,000 deaths, not 300,000+!!!

        Part of the reason why there is no “exit strategy,” at least in the U.S., is again because of the failure of leadership of the Orange Enemy of the People. Preferring to be a babbling toddler to a mensch, he has refused to take action on, or responsibility for, the pandemic. He has stymied the authorities in the various scientific fields related to combatting the pandemic. He has brought quacks into his inner circle. He has showed an utter disregard for the welfare of the people whom he purportedly serves.

        Other countries have their own records to contend with, some much better than others. I gather from the news reports that Boris Johnson did a lousy job until he was infected, then stepped up his game at least a little bit. If this is valid, then at least he did better than the Orange One, who was not in the least bit educated or humbled by his own experience with being infected and sickened.

        There are valid concerns about the ramifications of contending with this pandemic: other physical health issues, mental health issues, etc. In fact, this pandemic has been a stress test on our institutions. Certain ones have been shown to be in better shape than others.

        Had the pandemic been handled more effectively, and, in the case of the U.S., less egregiously, then more emphasis could be put on the valid points that you broach.

        Right now, in the U.S. we face the specter of millions of deaths from COVID-19, if action is not taken soon.

        • SVM says:

          “if action is not taken soon” — but lengthy ‘lockdowns’ kill more people than they save, so it is better to take more targeted action (such as encouraging the vulnerable to shield, and ensuring that such people would not face financial ruin if they follow an advisory to shield), than to impose blanket restrictions.

          If you look at Europe, you will find that most countries have imposed enormous restrictions since March 2020, including some lengthy ‘lockdowns’, despite which COVID-19 has continued to proliferate.

          It is possible to identify, with reasonable reliability, the people who are most vulnerable. Unlike the Spanish ‘flu and the Black Death (which were genuinely indiscriminate), COVID-19 carries a very low mortality risk to the young and healthy. We should do what we can to enable the vulnerable to shield (including younger vulnerable people), whilst accepting that most of the non-vulnerable population will catch this highly infectious virus.

          • William Safford says:

            You wrote: “but lengthy ‘lockdowns’ kill more people than they save.”

            What statistics do you have for this assertion?

            From what I have read, this is a serious issue in countries such as India.

            Do you have statistics for countries such as the U.S. or the U.K.?

            A major reason for the lockdowns, at least in the U.S., is to prevent hospitals from exceeding 100% of capacity. This has already happened in certain locations. It could have happened in other locations, were it not for the lockdowns.

            People cannot receive health care in hospitals if they are above full capacity. The COVID patients also put the non-COVID patients at risk by their very presence.

            Do not be distracted by the “very low mortality rate” that is often touted by those who wish to deny the seriousness of this pandemic.

            In the U.S., we already have over 300,000 dead due to this pandemic.

            If one percent of the U.S. population is killed by COVID, then that’s *three million* dead. (That assumes a one percent death rate, which is low, and almost the entire population infected, without a vaccine.)

            I don’t know about you, but I consider that a very high level of mortality, irrespective of the “mortality rate.” It is almost five times the number of Americans killed in the Civil War, which is the bloodiest war in our history.

            We are all ready 10% of the way there: over 300,000 dead from COVID in less than a year.

            You are correct that there are certain populations that are more at risk than others. The vaccination protocols takes this into account. Groups such as the elderly are being prioritized over the young. That notwithstanding, those populations lower at risk can act to spread the disease to those at higher risk, if adequate precautions are not taken.

            This pandemic is a very serious threat. I fear for the next one. What happens next time, when the pandemic is as virulent yet more deadly than this one?

            I hope this one is a wake up call to the world. We must not be complacent, about this one or the next one.

          • William Safford says:

            Clarification: “A major reason for the lockdowns, at least in the U.S., is to *slow down the spread of the disease, so as to* prevent hospitals from exceeding 100% of capacity.

            I realized that that sentence could be misinterpreted, without the added information.

  • Fabio Finzi says:

    We must be compassionate with Muti as this is the age at which senile dementia may very well start to take hold. It happened to Berlusconi too – remember at his last G7 when he was blabbering about Romulus and Remus and how civilization would not exist if it wasn’t for them? (Merkel’s expression was priceless).

    I am worried about the CSO, they should amend his contract and insert a clause forbidding him to do any more interviews unless a chaperon is present.

    • SVM says:

      Were we reading the same interview? The quotations given in the gramilano.com page strike me as lucid, logical (even if one does not agree wholly), and eloquent.

      Finzi’s absurd proposal that Muti should be restrained from giving interviews would set a chilling precedent for censorship in the arts.

  • Ebrezza di 20. says:

    Oggi nel rimirare in quell’istante eterno gli Occhi Tuoi, e Te possente in fondo all’Oro, mi sono ritrovata in una Sostanza Trasfigurata.

    Prima gelida Virgo prerafaelita, ora ebrezza incosciente, istintiva, spontanea, sorgente dal mio letto d’ulva a fluire verso la tua Promessa, accompagnando Te nella Macchia abbagliante di candida guazza.

    Presso l’ampia frasca voluttuosa, io nel Nido intarsiata di aromatiche gemme e oleandri profumati, porgendoti teneramente frutti da gustare.

    E il Pomo turgido, inghirlandato di madidi diamanti e fulgidi, eccolo schiudersi palpitante sol per Te, mio Re.

    Deh ora sono qui, spezzata Ombra di moto, attendendo che il carro Pizio sorga cinquanta e più volte ancora. E temo che la mia anima si spengerà, sola in quest’oblio.

    20., per ricordare oggi

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Wonderful example of reverse logic from the ‘Maestro’. “All men are mortal; Socrates was a man; all men are Socrates”.

  • Nicholas says:

    There is something noble in Ricardo Muti’s idealistic vision for the role of the arts in society. He has taken on the role of Don Quichote in his quest to slay the cultural rot of this post modern world. May he succeed!

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Once over 20 years ago, I took part in a certain piano competition in Italy. I was kicked out from the first round and me and my new girlfriend who was also kicked out, were consoling ourselves in a practice room. In walks a guy wearing a cheap wrinkled raincoat, cheap shoes and asks us something in Italian. I answered in English and the guy asks for directions in accented English to either a bathroom or something else. He seemed the most unassuming, modest person, I thought he was an electrician or something. After he left we looked at each other and screamed at the same time: “this is Muti!” His demeanor was so modest and cool that I never forgot that incident. In case you think this wasn’t him, we saw him conducting the finals.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Muti should know all about “ignorance”.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Muti’s plea is that theaters be kept open and used as theaters. That’s his job. Warehouses, armories, public buildingscan sub as vaccination centers.

  • Minnesota says:

    Assuming the Muti quote is accurate: If Muti ever experienced a bad case of Covid-19, or saw someone being intubated, he might have a different point of view. Bad viruses are not known for their appreciation of the arts. They do seem to love large groups of people packed inside a closed building.

    • SVM says:

      By that logic, we will always have to close the theatres every winter, even if COVID-19 were somehow eradicated. Bad cases of influenza and pneumonia happen all the time (even in the summer months, albeit to a much smaller extent than in the winter months), and some of them do require intubation.

      Gathering a large number of people in an enclosed space will always carry a heightened risk of an infectious disease proliferating. Rather than set unrealistic aspirations for zero transmission, perhaps we should reflect carefully on how to define “acceptable risk”, and on what practical measures can be taken (individually and collectively) to mitigate that risk.

      • William Safford says:

        Perhaps we have been too cavalier about infecting our fellow citizens.

        If I were to list the positives of this year of pandemic and isolation, one of them is that I have not contracted a single infectious illness. I have not had a cold, or 24-hour bug, or flu, or anything along those lines. My only maladies have been of a completely different sort, such as a twisted ankle, which are not the result of infection by others.

        Perhaps some of what we learn from this experience can be applied to our future protocols.

  • Naf Arepo says:

    Some differences aside, the more fundamental issue is that there is a set of influential older (and often narcissistic and authoritarian) men, ‘stable geniuses’ or not, that are incapable to grasp the seismic shifts that have taken place this past year — let alone adapt to them. As in other endeavors, the opera and classical music world will have to undergone a major transformation for it to survive. Only a few current leaders may be fit for purpose. They would tend to be younger, not just male, nor necessarily from old Europe/US.

  • William Safford says:

    People often talk about how out of touch the arts are with the common man, how we need to do more musical outreach, how we wish there were more members of the audience, etc.

    Well, here’s an opportunity to turn this around.

    Make concert halls vaccination centers!

    Make it a combination public service and branding/promotional opportunity.

    Not only is this not a bad idea, it’s a great idea!

    If medically prudent, provide live concerts, maybe by chamber groups associated with the concert halls.

    If not, provide music in some other form.

    Make it a selling and promotional point. Maybe get vaccinated, get a free ticket! Or something like that.

  • Kippel says:

    Multi, Mehta and Barenboim have an important connection. They are still there. Longevity conveys a certain authority, regardless of absolute quality. None of these conductors figure highly in comparative recording reviews. Muti, at least, has my support because he is alone amongst prominent conductors in not being obsessed with Mahler. Anyone could conduct the VPO in Strauss standing on their head in the dark. No one would notice the difference.

    • Luca says:

      Nevertheless, some concerts stand out more than others IMO: those conducted by Karajan, Kleiber, Ozawa and Muti. That is a personal choice and may have depended on how well I had eaten and drunk that day.

  • Luca says:

    Muti is a superb musician who has also done a lot for young musicians and given concerts for prisoners. It is shameful that the moderator should have passed this.

    • chicagorat says:

      It’s called “free speech”, and it’s constitutionally protected in the US (anonymous or not) and I suspect in most civilized countries. Not protected by every website by the way, and that’s one of the reasons (besides the content itself which is not selected, annotated and bundled in this way anywhere else) why Slippedisc is substantially more valuable to this group of users than Facebook or Twitter.

      I feel you, free speech is a hard concept for a Muti’s fan to grasp as the Maestro embodies the essence of dictatorship wherever he can project his power, which is very considerable. Just disagree with him once if you want to end your career in music in less than a minute.

      I read the post from another person inferring from a casual encounter that Muti is very “unassuming and modest”, dressed cheaply etc. Sounds like good material for a Twilight Zone episode where we meet Muti’s destitute doppelganger. Other than that, given that the described encounter spanned a few minutes, it may be instructive to listen to those who know Muti more than they would like. He is shockingly egocentric, power-driven and DEEPLY vindictive (a very deplorable trait). I noted that many posts on slippedisc criticize mostly Muti the man (vs. the musician) and in my personal experience this is entirely appropriate.

  • Raouf Zaidan says:

    I have always thought that our places of worship and performance art are meant to be kept alive in the hearts and minds of everyone. Why not have your vaccinations in a magnificent opera house? it may be your chance to connect with great beauty!

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Muti amusingly says in this interview that he was the only person in his Vienna hotel and it’s like a horror movie

  • G.G. says:

    All of you trying to insult Muti, you’re are doing it wrong!
    You should say:”That’s one of the reasons so many ones love Abbado”. This would really hurt him. Know your enemy!
    Happy new year.

  • Nijinsky says:

    He doesn’t know any true virologists, and if he had actually been doing his job, as a father, as a Maestro, then perhaps there wouldn’t be this problem to begin with, that he’s still going on about like the rest of so many it would overload even Krishna!

    • Hayne says:

      Point 1: “He doesn’t know any true virologists…”
      How do you know?
      Point 2: So a virologist who disagrees with the
      narrative is not a “true” virologist.
      Got it, thanks.