Maradona's Night at the Opera Sparks Controversy

Diego Maradona photographed in 2017
Alexander Hassenstein - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Diego Maradona photographed at Kameha Zurich Hotel on Jan. 8, 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland. 

High culture will meet football fever as soccer legend “highlight his truths and and his incredible life” on stage of Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo theater, the world’s oldest active opera venue

Soccer great Diego Maradona is set to appear on the stage of Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest active opera house in the world. Tickets are sold out for the Jan. 16 event, during which Maradona will appear with Italian rapper Clementino and Alessandro Siani, an actor and stand-up comedian who wrote the theatrical tribute to Maradona.

“For the first time on a theater stage, Maradona will give his testimony of love and freedom,” Siani told website Napoli Today, adding that the show will “highlight his truths and his incredible life.” The evening will include a performance by a choir, and video of Maradona's career highpoints will reportedly be shown on a big screen.

Not everyone in Naples is excited about Maradona’s night at the opera. Members of the city’s classical music community have come out against the idea of using the venerable 18th-century theater for a gathering of football fans.

"The San Carlo is the San Carlo. It is a temple of music, what does football have to do with it?” composer Roberto De Simone told the Italian newspaper  La Repubblica. Outraged, De Simone, who was the artistic director of the San Carlos from 1981 to 1987, called the evening with Maradona "an affront to our culture."

The show, called Three Times 10, will also feature “special guests” and “surprises,” according to Siani. Maradona led the Naples team to its first national championship victory in 1987, and his appearance at the San Carlo is timed to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of that now-mythic win. Neopolitans have reportedly shelled out up to 330 Euros each for the chance to see their hero onstage at the 1300-seat venue.

While a former city superintendent and others have joined De Simone in expressing their disapproval of the choice of venue for an event they say is not worthy of the theater’s reputation, Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris has expressed his excitement about attending the show and being able to shake Maradona’s hand.

Maradona’s agent, Stefano Ceci, is also enthusiastic.

“A man like him deserves a platform like that of a great Neapolitan theatre,” he told Italian Radio Kiss Kiss. Ceci also confirmed rumors that Maradona was in talks with Napoli about some sort of possible return to the club, suggesting that he would “make a great manager.”

There has been no confirmation that Maradona will sing during the Three Times 10 show, or maybe break out into a rap with his guest Clementino. But Maradona, in addition to being the subject of more than a few tribute songs, has been known to sing.

In this video unearthed on YouTube, he earnestly sings the Napoli anthem.

In 2014 he gave an assist to his daughter Dalma, joining her in this this video by her boyfriend’s group, cumbia band Apolo. 

Maradona’s must-see musical moment to date was captured by director Emir Kusturica in his 2008 documentary, Maradona by Kusturica, when the modern football icon joined Argentine rocker Rodrigo to sing Rodrigo’s great Maradona song, “La Mano de Dios.”


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