Cinemas and theaters were closed as well.
Milan's Teatro alla Scala canceled tonight's performance of Rossini's The Barber of Seville.
The government, under prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has made about $24 billion in spending cuts, including what is reported to be nearly $200 million per year, over the next three years, to the arts budget. Nearly half of the country's arts budget goes to opera companies such as La Scala.
Anica, the country's film-industry association, said that the proposed cuts would put 5,000 companies and 60,000 jobs at risk.
Performing-arts unions and associations have called for a demonstration in Rome.