The Orchestra Senzaspine

An innovative way to make opera accessible to people with sensory disabilities.
Lucilla Boschi

The Orchestra Senzaspine is an association of about 450 musicians under 35. The orchestra was founded in 2013 by the idea of two friends, the young conductors Tommaso Ussardi and Matteo Parmeggiani. The project has a twofold mission, on the one hand, to return classical music to the general public through innovative actions, and on the other to offer young orchestral players professional opportunities and the chance to confront the most challenging and fascinating symphonic repertoire. This is all accomplished with an engaging approach and a focus on inclusion. This is how a path was created to build an accessible approach to performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni on November 5, 6 and 7 at the Duse Theatre in Bologna. The project includes a variety of actions, including listening guides, lessons concerts, artistic performances, sensory experiences, and storytelling workshops, so that the work can also be enjoyed by people with sensory disabilities, thanks to the collaboration of the Institute for the Blind Francesco Cavazza, the Gualandi Foundation in favour of the deaf, ENS - Ente Nazionale Sordi and FIADDA Emilia-Romagna - the Association for the rights of deaf people and their families. 


The Orchestra Senzaspine - Bologna

The Don Giovanni libretto is also designed to be accessible to all. In collaboration with the Gualandi Foundation and the Cavazza Institute, the program will include an illustrated story with a simplified plot to facilitate comprehension and a translation into Braille. In addition to the subtitles of the opera, the audience will be able to access an audio and video description in LIS, through QR CODE in the booklet and in the page dedicated to the event on the Orchestra’s website (, where the plot, the direction, the sets, and the costumes are described. The part of the project involving the Tolomeo Museum of our Institute and its Atelier deals specifically with the architecture of the theatre, stage, space, set design, materials, and techniques. In the Foyer of the Duse Theatre, a multisensory experience will be set up with the tables of the scenes and the models of the costumes. In addition, workshops on perception are planned: “Developing Sensitivities” at the Tolomeo Museum (Oct. 19 and 20), “The Context, Deconstructing Space” at the Duse Theatre (Oct. 23), “Feeling the Fabrics” at Antoniano (Oct. 24), and “Touching the Sound” at the Sonato Market (Oct. 30 and 31).


Poster of events

“This year we chose Mozart’s Don Giovanni because opera is an instrument of great wealth to know each other through the genius of the artists of the past. It is a bridge between cultures and eras where the thread that unites them are the stories and emotions of people, unbroken threads that intertwine and that belong to us. Because in the end it is our stories and our emotions that are just waiting to re-emerge through the wonder of art, said Tommaso Ussardi President of the Association Senzaspine and Director of the Orchestra. But this year we want the message to be truly inclusive, especially for all the people who cannot access and enjoy opera in all its forms. With the support of professionals from the partners involved, we want opera to be accessible to everyone.”


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