The Project

The lutherie workshop in the Opera prison

The lutherie workshop is a project of the Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation since 2013, the year the Foundation was founded. It is a real history of art that has been taking place for years in this workshop where not only fine violins are created, but life and meaning are given to the time of imprisonment and the foundations are built for social and professional reintegration.

Vincenzo, Claudio, Marco, Nicolae and Andrea are the names of the people who learn to build Stradivari violins in prison, under the guidance of the master luthier Enrico Allorto and the coordination of Fabrizio Fornara, involved from the beginning in the workshop and become one of the first luthiers who, after having served his sentence, continues to collaborate with the lutherie in prison.

The workshop therefore represents the possibility of concrete work that forms humanly and develops skills to allow future professional placements, as provided for in Article 27 of the Constitution. A workshop that can also create real professionals in the art of making violins, as it was for Fabrizio Fornara, now engaged in the training of people detained and in their collaboration with the famous Cremona master luthiers, including Edgar Ross.

Vincenzo, Claudio, Marco, Nicolae and Andrea are a real team, all five hired and involved in the production of violins: the challenge is to close this 2021 with the creation of new Stradivari violins!

The history and meaning of the project

The violin making workshop was started in 2013 in the Opera Prison, under the guidance of prestigious masters from the Stradivari Institute of Cremona and supported by the Lombardy Region. The prisoners involved in the project have attended the workshop every day of the week from the very beginning. The final goal of this project is the social and professional reintegration of people in a state of social marginalization.

Violins, unique pieces, the result of hours of skilled craftsmanship (more than 300 hours of work are required to create a violin) are created to move people with the power of music and art. One of the violins made in the lutherie was transformed by Jannis Kounellis, father of poor art, one of the greatest contemporary artists, into a work of great civil testimony.

There are many school groups and people who continue to visit the lutherie, appreciating the work that is done, re-evaluating and restoring dignity to the person in prison.

Through the concerts made with violins produced in prison and played by young talents of the Italian Conservatories, we want to continue to raise awareness by moving.

Art, therefore, in its various expressions, is placed in the project as listening and therefore as "voice" of the world "behind bars" and at the same time as a stimulus to a reworking of the national prison policy and for the construction of an innovative, but concrete, training model in prison.

Some violins produced by the lutherie were donated to the Milan Conservatory, delivered to children and teenagers in difficulty and to their peers of Roma ethnicity, holders of scholarships that fully covered the study costs at the institution. Currently, thanks to the support of the Vismara Foundation and the Cariplo Foundation, after the training of the first five people, the project continues to involve the new small group of aspiring luthiers, who are always coordinated by highly experienced masters.

What can you do

Support this project

Support jail workshops in prison donating a one-year-training to a prisoner.