“I’m the crying type, yes. When things go wrong at first, I’m despondent, shedding tears for three days. But then I start again: when I was refused admission for the first time to the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, I said to myself: Beatrice, all right, wait a year, prepare yourself, you know there are only two or three seats in the conducting class. Do your best and…”
“Emotion must have played a bad trick on me. A second time. I was probably not ready for what the commission expected, it was a matter of maturity. Having to wait another year was difficult.”
Beatrice Venezi will also have been rejected, will have cried, will have waited. But at 25 he was the youngest conductor in Italy. And also the most envied and exposed in the media.
“You pay for the exhibition, however, especially if you go to Sanremo: a lot of visibility, but also a lot of criticism when the question arose that I wanted to be called a director and not a director, in addition to the sexist remarks. But above all for having decided to participate in such a “pop” program: they put you on the cross for life for having “contaminated” the purity of loud music. I see so much evil and so much bad faith”.
When did you first face the problem of gender difference?
«I studied with maestro Piero Bellugi, a character of incredible humanity. Once, after a class, we were alone: he had never addressed the issue of gender difference. I was nurtured by the idea that there was no difference, I had never asked myself the problem of not having directors. He told me that he had talked to one of his sons, who was involved in circus arts, who had asked him if female hands could be more expressive than male hands in directing. A key moment in the formation of my security».
Then he slammed his face against us.
“Actually, at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, they didn’t give me the same opportunities they gave men. It was a continuation of sexist banter, even at the Accademia Chigiana. Things like “it’s a woman, what do you want me to do?” or they said I couldn’t dress in women’s clothes as if I had to look like a man. I believe it is the desire to make small copies of their students’ teachers».
«It’s the difference between a teacher and a teacher: a teacher is the one who gives you the possibility to express who you are. But there were no female role models to refer to, even just for body posture. Because differences in the body between men and women affect driving.”
Your first time on a podium?
“At 22 years old and with a lot of emotion in him. Even though that “magical tranquility of the podium” enveloped me as soon as I started. It’s something I still can’t explain today: whatever restlessness you feel, it’s always in the locker room. I was in my Lucca, in the Basilica of San Giovanni, driving the eroica. In name and in fact ».
At the time, had the problem of being “a director and a woman” already arisen that has accompanied you so far in your career?
“I think it was the only time I didn’t feel that disapproving look on me. Perhaps precisely because I was surrounded by countrymen ».
What was Beatrice like as a child?
“I danced and hummed even on cloths. Or at least that’s what my parents say.
Was she a child prodigy?
“A little girl who moved awkwardly. But music, the expression of rhythm through the body, has been part of me since I was very young. First with the dance, then with the piano».
What memories do you have of the piano at the beginning?
«A vague image of the little hands on the keys, as if in my eyes a secret was only revealed to a few. However, this was not the instrument of my desires.”
«I felt like I wanted to start with something more rhythmic and primitive like the beating of the heart, in fact I was fascinated by the percussion».
Already in the daring, “tribal”, fierce era as we see it today at thirty?
“Not at all: shy, introverted. Quite the opposite of what it may seem now. I was fascinated by a language, a song, not linked to the words that classify everything».
«A characteristic that I brought with me: in Avignon the first clarinet entered the locker room and told me that he had lost two children but that thanks to people like me he continued to do this work. And we hug each other”.
Empathy. Despite so much mistrust.
“Yes. As I often think of a lady from the Orquestra de Bolzano who got up from the cello line, stopped me in the hallway and said: We were told she was just a media personality and that’s why I was prejudiced against her. Also, thank you: this is the last production I participate in before retirement, and it’s a pleasure to be able to change my opinion “.
Thus, even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome. Now it’s machismo.
“I never got over it. But traveling and learning about different cultures helped me. In France, nobody notices if you are male or female, only if you are good or not. orchestra leader. To point”.
To put it to Frankenstein Jr…
“Can be done. But you see the differences. With the Clermont-Ferrand orchestra in Auvergne and with the orchestra in Avignon Provence it’s all a laugh and a joke, but we work hard. In Italy, on the other hand, it almost seems that culture only develops if you stay serious, laugh or have fun. There’s this idea that if you’re not “boring” enough it means what you do isn’t serious.”.
Italy has always been a step ahead in music, but are we still behind on the sociocultural level?
“In the academic world, they still point me as if I am a ‘commercial product’ of entertainment and they turn up their noses. As if I’m a force bluff, a continuous “isn’t enough”. It doesn’t happen abroad ».
The fact that she is also very beautiful may not help… to overcome certain prejudices.
“Being beautiful is a problem. In people’s eyes you read a sort of “you’re done huh, do you want to be prepared, beautiful and successful? It’s too much, you can’t”. For that, I have to be much more prepared than a male colleague.”
«In Cagliari, on my debut in a high-level opera foundation. This is an orchestra of renown and quality, but not easily malleable, you have to earn them with sweat. And until the previous performance there was no audience, for fear of Covid. Then it was our turn and the audience was packed: it was the moment when I felt for the first time the taste of victory. Especially afterwards, in the dressing room, with the musicians who came up to me to say “we can’t wait to have you back with us” ».
And when is she forced to go into battle?
«It happens with some first violins, those who dream of being a conductor and can’t. I remember early 2020, when a named violinist, from a major orchestra, addressed me in such a condescending manner when he said “don’t worry, I think I’m a man and I’m bigger than you”. I could leave him and be calm, losing authority. Or go to the counter. My vein closed and I wanted to eat it. But a director must never transcend, authority is not demonstrated by raising one’s voice. Keeping his cool while trying to provoke me made him furious: he got up and walked away. I continued to work with others who came to apologize for him. I brought in the rest of my orchestra, sidelining the harassing subject. He had a hysterical crisis, I had a concert».
Is there only music in your life?
“I have a partner, Juan, and we are thinking about expanding. But keeping work and family together will be a challenge. Not all men are ready to accept that I am away for long periods of time, and no matter how open-minded we are, certain role reversals are not easy to accept. But I was lucky ».
You can be a good mother and a good professional together.
«I still have in my heart a singer who, during the Manon Lescaut at Goldoni in Livorno in 2017 he told me: Beatrice, you will certainly be a good mother, you can see how you take care of us and the orchestra”
. Does Juan help her overcome all the obstacles she encounters in her work?
«He knows the rituals of orchestras, he deals with the economy but he has become a keen observer of the dynamics between artists, he knows how to perceive the air inside the rooms. He tells me: we always start with a “but what does it want?” to change to “she might be fine, but she’s still a good woman, so it’s not good” and end with “push and stick, you’ve won them over”.
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April 25, 2022 | 07:24
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