Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana and Principal Conductor of the Milano Classica Orchestra, Beatrice Venezi is a member of the Women’s Council of the Pontifical Council for Culture for the three-year period 2019-2021 and among the few women in the world to conduct orchestras at an international level: from Japan to Belarus, from Portugal to Lebanon, from Canada to Argentina, from the United States to Armenia. Beatrice Venezi, in addition to being good, is also beautiful and this “has created and is creating problems for her”. It is no coincidence that the director wanted to dedicate his latest album “Heroines” (released a few days ago) to female empowerment. The album collects Preludes, Symphonies, Interludes and orchestral Suites taken from works that feature famous female figures such as Joan of Arc, Isolde, Evita but also Medea, infanticide of her own children, Maria de Buenos Aires, born “one day when God he was drunk ”and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth.
He called his record “the perfect antidote to political correctness”. Because?
These women and these heroines and anti-heroines have in common the tenacity, perseverance, the courage to throw the heart over the obstacle but also the resilience to speak out of the pack and act outside the conventions of society. They are not afraid of social judgment and marginalization, they are aware of the consequences, ready to pay the price. We think we are freer than ever, but we are not and we must also be careful about how words are pronounced, so as not to offend someone, nobody wants to do it. But it is true that we are judged by any word we say. So these women remind us of the power of freedom.
What do you think of politically correct?
I am for free expression against the pre-packaged dictates that society wants to impose. This album is a hymn to women who are not afraid to express their ideas.
Do they find it difficult to express themselves in today’s society?
Women often and willingly do not have the real freedom to self-determine and we see it from the little things of every day. The differences between men and women were accentuated especially in the post lockdown period. Many women have lost their jobs and still today a woman has to choose – because she has no other support – between career and family. We are still harassed today in a society that hangs in the favor of men. There is a great deal of attention to female themes, but in practice there is not. There was the Day Against Women’s Violence but I ask myself: what is being done in practice? The number of women asking for help and not receiving it is dramatic. Women who are killed despite numerous complaints against the murderer.
Which of your heroines most resembles you?
It’s hard to answer, each of them left me something. But perhaps I would say Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth, a harassed and abused woman who gains her freedom with murder. This work has also been censored in Russia because it gives the image of a woman who rebels against society. It was considered subversive by the communist regime.
How much still needs to be done so that the role of women is fully known in all aspects of society and work?
There is a long way to go, there are small and large concrete acts that can be done. For example, aiming for wage equality between men and women that does not yet exist. Work must be recognized regardless of gender.
She wants to be called conductor and not conductor. Do you find it discriminating?
Yes, the differentiation of the gender adjective is ghettoizing. It is important to recognize the value of a person in their work regardless of gender.
Much has been said about the harassment of the correspondent Greta Beccaglia. How did you feel seeing that scene?
The fan did it because he thought it would have no consequence and this is the basis of many wrong behaviors in our society. He felt entitled to do so. The thing that struck me was that Beccaglia had to justify herself because she was pretty, as if beauty in work is a ‘minus’. Beauty takes nothing away from professionalism. Sometimes it is women themselves who judge other women. As if a woman who takes care of her appearance cannot also do training and culture. The woman of culture – in the collective imagination – must necessarily be a scruffy woman. This is a retrograde cultural legacy.
Did being beautiful create problems for you?
It has caused me problems and continues to cause problems at work. Often when I interact with an orchestra I perceive distrust. Maybe they think ‘but this is half my age, what do you want’ and so on.