Orchestra conductor in Rome staggers for ride to hospital

Orchestra conductor recovers from extreme drunkenness to ask firefighters for a ride to safety

As a conductor on an opera orchestra, Gennaro Giandugana had a month-long program that began, at the key of tenor, with drinking.

The trouble was, the Italian musician who composed works for Mozart and Stravinsky also had a weakness for strong liquor. At around 3am on Saturday, Giandugana became so intoxicated that he escaped from the Colosseum and stopped what he was doing on a street corner, went to a taxi stand, asked a driver to take him to a nearby train station, and ended up getting a lift to the nearest fire station.

The conductor’s gruelling outing to deliver his message: Don’t drink and drive

Giandugana, who was appointed to his position in 2011, told the gazzetta A97 on Wednesday that he had been performing in Pisa, and suffered from “that characteristic Italian delusion, that which is another word for over-indulgence”.

“I stopped what I was doing to take in the refreshing temperatures that were falling,” he explained.

“My memory is a bit hazy, but in the area of the Colosseum I saw a group of people, people dressed in casual clothes, walking down a side street. I walked up to them to offer them some words of encouragement.”

Then came the trouble. When Giandugana saw an occupied taxi, he made a “guerrilla action”, he explained, “by climbing onto the hood of it and getting into an unknown conversation with the driver”.

After just 30 seconds, the driver realised he was under the influence, and had picked up a tourist. Giandugana also noticed two tourists lurking behind him, so decided to steal one of them, saying: “I have been offered this taxi and I want to jump in it.”

To the dismay of the driver, however, Giandugana “got drunk and powerful”, so decided to say his goodbye to the two tourists by “praying” to them before returning to the fire station.

Giandugana – who revealed that he had a terrible fight with his wife, in which she said she would divorce him unless he stopped drinking – finally arrived at the station, which is the sight of his redemption.

But he still has a case of “extreme intoxication” to answer in court – as does his driver.

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