The Italian Almanac

La Scala theatre

Italian News - February 26

Barely two months after the restoration of La Scala was unveiled at a glittering gala, the great opera house is in chaos, with strikes threatening to bring down the curtain amid backstage intrigues worthy of an Italian libretto.

For both the fur-clad members of Milan high society and the “loggionisti” who queue for cheap seats in the gods there is no doubt who is the main actor in the drama: Riccardo Muti, La Scala’s charismatic and often imperious conductor and musical director.

Signor Muti has long been at odds with general manager Carlo Fontana, accusing him of “dumbing down” the repertoire by staging popular shows such as Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story". Two years ago Muti was instrumental in bringing in Mauro Meli, a former superintendent of the Cagliari opera house in Sardinia, as artistic director, “to reverse the decline at La Scala” and to force Fontana out.