The Italian Almanac

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Daniel Barenboim

A New Director

Famed Argentinian-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim was named musical director of Milan's iconic La Scala opera house, filling a post left vacant when Riccardo Muti stormed out in 2005 amid artistic differences. Barenboim, 68, who is already principal guest conductor for La Scala, will assume his new post on December 1, La Scala said.

For the last five years Barenboim has been Maestro of La Scala, a less formal title under which he has produced at least two operas a year. This arrangement was due to lapse this year. Barenboim will serve as musical director until the end of 2016, La Scala said, adding that he would be present at the opera house 15 weeks a year for concerts, operas and tours.

Making the announcement "with great satisfaction and pride," La Scala Superintendent Stephane Lissner called Barenboim "one of the greatest conductors of our time". The appointment, Lissner said, would launch "a broad-scale European project which strengthens La Scala internally and at the same time opens it up to new prospects on the world stage".

Barenboim has conducted many of the world's top symphony orchestras and is currently general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin. He is also known for his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a Seville-based orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians, and as an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.