Italy to offer €2 opera tickets for 18-25 year olds

Young people will soon be able to get a seat at Italy's finest opera houses for just €2, as part of a new initiative designed to broaden Italians' access to culture.

Italy to offer €2 opera tickets for 18-25 year olds
Inside La Scala in Milan, which will soon be offering cut-price seats for young people. Photo: Matteo Bazzi/AFP

The country's most famous opera house, La Scala in Milan, will begin offering the cut-price tickets to 18 to 25 year olds from next year, Minister of Culture Alberto Bonisoli announced on Tuesday.

Another 13 opera foundations, which represent theatres in Rome, Venice, Naples, Verona and other cities across the country, have agreed to follow suit, he said.

“It's an initiative to bring culture as close as possible to new generations who may be sceptical of it or think it outdated,” Bonisoli said.

“But it's also a gesture to an age group in difficulty, often out of work. Culture doesn't fix problems, but it can help.”

READ ALSO: The tiny Italian town fighting a drugs epidemic with classical music

At La Scala, the €2 tickets will be available for 22 performances out of the 2018/19 season, including 15 operas and seven ballets. One hundred tickets will be on sale per performance.

Typically tickets for one of La Scala's operas start at around €30 for a seat in the nosebleed section, climbing to nearly €300 for a place in the stalls. The opera house already offers discounts for under-19s, over-65s and students, as well as reducing the cost of its annual pass for under-30s and making certain performances half-price for all

Bonisoli, who took over as Italy's culture minister in June, has come in for criticism after he announced plans to scrap free entry to state museums on the first Sunday of the month after saying that the scheme risked creating huge queues and “undervaluing our sites”. 

Speaking on Tuesday, he said that museums would continue to open for free on first Sundays between October and March, as well as another eight days per year that each site can choose.

There are also plans to offer free entry at national museums across Italy for an entire week every year, he said, starting in March 2019.

READ ALSO: 'It's incredible to lead an orchestra in Italy, the place where music was born'

Photo: Marcello Orselli


Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.