VALENTINA ANZANI, born in Como, is a post-doctoral researcher in musicology, currently working as opera librettos specialist for the ERC DIDONE PROJECT, The Sources of Absolute Music: Mapping Emotions in Eighteenth-Century Italian Opera at the Complutense de Ciencias Musicales Institute of Madrid. She was previously a research fellow at the Department of Arts of the University of Bologna. She earned her degree and doctorate in Musicology at the University of Bologna, and she spent extended periods of research at the University of Chicago, the King’s College and the British Library in London, the State Archives of Munich, the State Library of Berlin and the Music Library of Greece in Athens. In 2016 the Handel Institute (UK) awarded her research with the “Handel Award”. She has been scientific consultant for various musical ensembles dedicated to the Baroque repertoire, a role that she currently holds for the Ensemble Stile Galante (Amsterdam). In 2020 she founded, together with her brother Simone Anzani, the startup Vibe & Sound, with which she developed the OperaMeet mobile App, a social network dedicated to increase the audience participation to operatic performances.
Dear Valentina, first of all congratulations for your new baby, the app OperaMeet! It was an honour to find out about it in anteprima directly from its CEO & Founder. Brava! Before talking about this marvellous project, I’d like to ask who is Valentina Anzani? Where does you love for opera come from?
I was eager to tell you as soon as I could as I admire the work you do on social media with artists and theatres, and I really wanted your fresh, informed point of view! I started being passionate about opera in my last high school year, when I met someone who would become one of my best friends: Emanuele. He was studying to be a professional opera singer (he actually succeeded!), and he was talking to me about Maria Callas all the time. He also brought me to Teatro alla Scala for the very first time to see an opera: it was Wagner’s Tannhäuser. I fell desperately in love, and I realized that I wanted to be as close to this world as possible. Afterwards I moved to Bologna to study Performing Arts, and eventually I picked musicology as my path also for my master and PhD degrees.
How was the idea behind OperaMeet born?
As a researcher I have always felt that me and my colleagues should find a way to share our knowledge not only within the academia. Sometimes we forget of the “outside world”, and even during conferences or public seminars we remain obscure, unable to connect to the youngers or the general public. And then, during pandemic lockdowns I was feeling very lonely because I could not share my operatic passion with all the friends I made because of opera. I have also been reflecting about the fact that many people want to go to the opera but do not resolve themselves to buy the tickets as they do not have friends who come along. Another problem to me was that neophyte feel distant from opera because they do not know where to find clear information about it. That’s when I elaborate a plan to create a digital tool to make people feel closer to the world of opera and to create an online community which aims to meet in real life at the theatre. Then I had the idea of the app: a social network which also schedules the operatic productions. With it, people can browse the productions, pick the one they like, get to know new friends and schedule a trip to the theatre. The app can also be used directly at the theatre: how many times have we felt lonely in the foyer, wanting to interact with others, but not confident enough to talk with strangers? The app allows users to see who else is in the theatre, chat a little and then meet. My final aim is to make people realize that going to the theatre is not only being seated for the three hours of the performance, but is a whole experience made of dressing up, sharing emotions, discussing about them (maybe over a meal or a drink), and feeling part of a larger community with a common passion.
Read the entire interview here, in the 5th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.0