|Conductor Riccardo Muti, Ravenna Festival Continue Friendship with Little Prince School in Kenya|
2013 is the year of Verdi, celebrating the 200-year anniversary of his birth. Eminent Italian conductor Riccardo Muti added a unique twist to his performance in honor of the composer, dedicating the dress rehearsal of the opera Nabucco to the 350 students of Little Prince primary school, which is supported by AVSI in Nairobi, Kenya.
The opera was performed as part of the Ravenna Festival on July 13, with a special dress rehearsal in the afternoon for 500 guests to benefit the Little Prince. Thanks to the support of Muti and his wife Cristina, President of the Ravenna Festival, a collection was taken at the dress rehearsal and at an AVSI booth present at the entrance to greet the thousands of attendees at the evening performance. The surprise of the evening was the presence of Cristina Muti herself at the booth, helping to catch the attention of concert-goers as they entered. She wanted to tell them about the beautiful Little Prince school which she had visited in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, and invite them to join her in supporting the students and their families. As a result, over $9,000 was collected!
The Mutis first met the Little Prince school for a special concert in Nairobi in July 2012, in which Riccardo was the conductor and a group of students were members of the chorus for “Va, Pensiero” from Nabucco. It was part of the international Concert for Friendship organized by the Ravenna Festival at Uhuru Park.
This unforgettable experience remains in the hearts of all the young participants, and also in those of maestro Muti and the Ravenna Festival, who decided to give annual support for 30 children of the Kibera slum. It all goes to show the value of a relationship that grows over time, beyond the first impression and impulse to help.
The Little Prince was established in 2000 first as an after-school center housed in a makeshift building in Kibera with only one teacher and 7 children. Today, the 8-year primary school and nursery school is home to 350 children from the slum area. By no means a ‘school for the elite’, since 2001 Little Prince has had a 94% transition rate to secondary school, and average drop-out rate at only 7% (versus the 35% national average).
Watch the Little Prince choir perform "Va, Pensiero" with Muti in Nairobi in 2012: