While preparations for Sanremo 2021 continue, one subject continues to be debated: will Sanremo have a live audience? The Italian government still says no, while Artistic Director Amadeus has reportedly threatened to quit if the iconic music festival cannot have an audience. Meanwhile, supermodel Naomi Campbell has been confirmed as a Sanremo co-host.
Earlier in the month, the Italian government introduced new restrictions in an effort to curb the impact of Covid-19. The restrictions are scheduled to end on 5 March — one day before the grand final of Sanremo 2021.
The new rules permit television productions to go ahead, including those filmed in concert halls and theatres, provided safety measures are followed. However, the rules are clear that such events CANNOT be held with a live audience.
The Sanremo team have argued that while the Ariston Theatre is technically a theatre, it will effectively be used like a television studio. They see no reason why, if the production follows safely measures, Sanremo 2021 should not be allowed to use an audience of “extras”.
RAI’s plan is to find pairs of people from the region, who normally live together, to make up the Sanremo audience. By using cohabiting duos, this effectively means the pairs are in their own bubble and can safely sit beside each other, one metre away from other couples.
And unlike a normal Sanremo audience who has to pay for their tickets, in this case, the audience would be the ones getting paid — for their work as TV extras.
The Italian government isn’t budging
But the Italian government isn’t buying RAI’s plan. Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini clarified the matter in a tweet, backing up earlier comments from Minister of Health Roberto Speranza. He wrote:
“The Ariston Theater of #Sanremo it is a theatre like all the others and therefore, as the minister @robersperanza clarified yesterday, the public, paying, free or extras, will be able to return only when the rules allow it for all theatres and cinemas. We hope as soon as possible.”
Il Teatro Ariston di #Sanremo è un teatro come tutti gli altri e quindi, come ha chiarito ieri il ministro @robersperanza, il pubblico, pagante, gratuito o di figuranti, potrà tornare solo quando le norme lo consentiranno per tutti i teatri e cinema. Speriamo il prima possibile.
— Dario Franceschini (@dariofrance) January 28, 2021
Amadeus isn’t happy
Sanremo 2021 Creative Director Amadeus has long been a supporter of Sanremo having an audience and he is reportedly not happy.
Italian media are reporting that Amadeus has threatened to quit the show if it is forced to go ahead with no live audience.
Perhaps Sanremo could look to Norway’s national final, Melodi Grand Prix. Its 2021 edition is being held without a live audience, yet the show is still enjoying strong ratings and the competing songs are making the Spotify charts.
Naomi Campbell to the rescue
But amid all the debate, there is one positive confirmation for Sanremo. The iconic British supermodel and businesswoman Naomi Campbell will co-host the opening night.
Amadeus spoke highly of the fashion icon, and promised that audiences will see many sides of her. “She will be able to tell us what the public does not know about her, her friendship with Nelson Mandela, her civil rights battles against racism.”
Naomi Campbell is also a good person to have around in a pandemic. The supermodel is known for being conscientious about hygiene and has shared videos of how she keeps safe when travelling during the pandemic.
Naomi Campbell joins Sanremo 2020 singer Elodie and Italian actress (and star of The Undoing) Matilda De Angelis as Amadeus’ cohosts.
Sanremo 2021 will run from 2 to 6 March. The winner will have first refusal to represent Italy at Eurovision 2021.
What do you think? Should Sanremo keep fighting for a live audience? Or should they adapt to not having one? Tell us your thoughts below!