Back in the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, the ‘orchestra’ was the home to of both the chorus and the dancers. However, with the arrival of the Renaissance it transformed into what we know today as the orchestra pit at the front of the stage.
Today, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have faced a global standstill in the world of music and performance, in a way that never occurred before. Our orchestras and musicians have been left for dead but, rather remarkably, have not been defeated in terms of dedication and passion for the performance. We have witnessed an impressive commitment for online concerts, lessons, seminars and rehearsals.
As a counteract to the pandemic, we have come up with the idea of ‘Inside Out’. This will mark a reunion among the artists, their art, and everybody who felt their absence during the past year. Prior to the reopening of Teatro Verdi we shot a reportage that illustrates the slow return to normality. It is a clear sign that we, as a Nation, are on the road to recovery and we will overcome this crisis united. Behind the screen and backstage we are blessed with artists, incredible artisans, researchers and of course, teachers.
Each portrait is a member of Orchestra della Toscana; a public entity whose sole aim is to spread music as a public service, and whose home at the Teatro Verdi in Florence, sits only 300 steps from the Bargello and very close to the Perseo of Benvenuto Cellini. This historic building dated 1854, owes its existence to founder Girolamo Pagliano. Pagliano was a pharmacist/alchemist who became famous in Florence for the invention of a depurative syrup in the early 19th century, which made him a lot of money. Instead of keeping his fortune all to himself, he decided to use part of it to build a theatre suitable for the people and the district of Santa Croce. He had it built on the remains of a medieval prison, giving strict instructions; the theatre had to be accessible to the common people, not just to the bourgeoisie. It welcomed all forms of live entertainment!
Fast forward to today, the theatre still hosts opera, drama, classical music, rock, circus, boxing, dance, cinema and has been used as a meeting point for the Futurist Avant-garde in the 1900’s. With a capacity of 1500 seats and 6 boxes, it remains the largest italian-style theatre in Tuscany, with the widest artistic scope. For more than 20 years now, it has been the home of the orchestra; a place to rehearse and perform for a rich season of concerts.
During the lockdown, silence reigned, posters were taken down and the theatre closed. So this, now, is our opportunity for rebirth. We would like the public to see the faces of those who have dedicated themselves to art and music. From the hand of a skilled violinist, to the backstage manager that remains busy till late at night, this project finally offers everyone on the “outside” an insight to backstage life; Inside Out.
This is a symbolic, political and artistic gesture. With the return of our orchestra members, we are adapting to new regulations and guidelines so that the working space remains safe and open for live performance. We must observe and respect it so that such a crisis is not repeated, and we must do so together. However, for the time being we still have a missing element: our audience. ‘Inside Out’ is another way to deliver our art to it; a glimpse and a testament to the work that our community of conductors, executives, managers, technicians and employees do within the walls of our beloved theater.