LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  March 2005

CLASSICAL March 2005

Subject:

Mutiny of La Scala

From:

Larry Sherwood <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 18 Mar 2005 06:35:16 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (193 lines)

This article, from today's Wall Street Jounal, may interest some on the
List.

   Muti Mutiny:
   Miffed Musicians
   Want Maestro to Go

   In Milan, Backstage Rancor
   Pits La Scala Orchestra
   Against Longtime Leader
   By GABRIEL KAHN and KRISTINE M. CRANE
   Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
   March 18, 2005

   At Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the opera world's most sacred
   temple, one of the leading conductors of our time is being
   booed off stage.  By his own musicians.

   This year was supposed to mark La Scala's return to its
   traditional home in the heart of Milan after a three-year
   restoration.  Instead, the season has already suffered
   cancellations, and the glorious 18-year career of its famed
   conductor, Riccardo Muti, could well end on a sour note.

   Mr.  Muti, 63 years old, is refusing to perform with La Scala's
   musicians.  Even if he relented, it's unlikely the music would
   be pretty.  There is so much bad blood, says Sandro Malatesta,
   a 35-year-veteran La Scala trumpet player, that playing
   together again with the maestro "is pretty much impossible.
   It would take a miracle."

   Backstage tensions at La Scala have been simmering for years.
   They boiled over last month when the theater's board of
   directors finally removed Mr.  Muti's longtime nemesis, Carlo
   Fontana, the superintendent who runs the opera house's finances.
   Mr.  Fontana was replaced with a Muti loyalist, Mauro Meli,
   who was unpopular with the musicians.

   "Meli is Muti's bag carrier," says Mr.  Malatesta.  "We don't
   need a bag carrier at La Scala."

   On Wednesday, La Scala's nearly 800 musicians, singers,
   carpenters and janitors chanted "Dimissioni!  Dimissioni!"
   ("Resign!  Resign!") in the theater as they voted overwhelmingly
   for Mr.  Muti to step down from his conductor's podium.  Mr.
   Muti got only two votes of support.  There were three
   abstentions.

   Last night, a marathon emergency board meeting decided to
   call for a formal set of negotiations between La Scala's
   employees, management and the board to find a solution to
   the impasse.

   The orchestra has been on strike since Feb.  22, the theater's
   recently dismissed superintendent is suing the mayor for
   slander, and the Italian Senate has been hearing testimony
   from musicians and managers in an effort to figure out what
   started all the discord.

   Mr.  Fontana, who had struggled to keep the theater's grandiose
   budget within limits, had wanted to introduce more popular
   pieces into La Scala's repertoire in order to broaden the
   appeal and attract more young fans.  To help fill seats, he
   had even wanted the Broadway musical "Cats" to be performed
   at La Scala's temporary home.  For the purist Mr.  Muti, this
   was operatic heresy.

   Messrs.  Muti and Meli declined requests for comment, said a
   La Scala spokesman.

   Behind the theatrics at La Scala are conflicts that animate
   many artistic disputes: a brilliant but autocratic maestro
   who has little regard for those who disagree with his artistic
   choices.  Mr.  Muti is hardly the first conductor to clash
   with his orchestra.  In 2002, Charles Dutoit, the renowned
   artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, resigned
   after the orchestra's union, in a statement, accused him of
   treating them like "battered spouses."

   No one in Milan is calling into question Mr.  Muti's reputation
   as one of the world's pre-eminent conductors.  He led the
   celebrated Philadelphia Orchestra from 1980-1992.  But he is
   hardly the easiest man to work with.  Last fall, he pulled
   out of a Royal Opera production of Verdi's "La Forza del
   Destino" a month before the curtain was to go up at Covent
   Garden in London.  His gripe: Royal Opera set designers had
   tinkered with the backdrop to make it fit on stage.  "We are
   totally perplexed by Maestro Muti's last-minute decision,"
   the Royal Opera said in a statement after the incident.

   As director of La Scala, he resisted for years displaying
   subtitles of the libretti, something that had become commonplace
   at other world-class opera companies, such as New York's
   Metropolitan.  Small subtitle screens were finally installed
   on seatbacks last year, after the theater's remodeling.

   He also refused to conduct Italy's national anthem before a
   production of Beethoven's "Fidelio," even though the presence
   of the president of the republic made it a necessity of
   protocol.  Mr.  Muti said publicly he was afraid it might
   throw off the musicians during the performance.

   "No one can say that under Muti, La Scala hasn't flourished
   musically," says Carlo Maria Cella, an opera critic for Milan
   daily Il Giorno, who has known Mr.  Muti for years and who
   is a great fan of the conductor's.  But he says the maestro's
   style invites discord.  "His character, in private, is very
   pleasant and open.  But when he is dealing with a theater
   administration, he can't stand anything that isn't decided
   personally by him.  The choice of singers, musicians,
   superintendent.  Everything."

   Mr.  Cella fears that after more than 18 years at La Scala,
   Mr.  Muti's tenure might be coming to an end.  "He has a
   sacrosanct vision of opera culture.  He is suspicious of
   anything that tries to win a broader public.  His rapport
   with the orchestra is horrible.  For several years now, the
   orchestra wanted change.  It didn't share his traditional
   tastes."

   For years, winning a broader public was never a concern at
   La Scala.  Its core audience was made up of die-hard opera
   buffs.  La Scala's prestige was so intertwined with that of
   glamorous Milan that the city made sure the bomb-damaged
   theater was the first building to be rebuilt after World War
   II.

   To this day, the opening-night guest list at La Scala reads
   like the social register of Italy, with industrialists,
   politicians and celebrities in attendance.  Opening night
   also became a magnet for protests, especially from anti-fur
   activists.  In 1998, Roman socialite Marina Ripa di Meana
   showed up topless, with an anti-fur slogan spray-painted in
   green across her breasts.

   But those protests ended at La Scala's doorstep.  Inside, few
   questioned the often bold artistic choices of the maestro,
   until now.

   On March 8, Mr.  Muti "broke the silence" in a lengthy letter
   in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, his only comment so
   far on the controversy.  He dismissed the many accusations
   that he insisted on dominating all artistic decisions at the
   theater.

   "I have not imposed anything," he wrote.  His attempts to
   bring about a management change, he added, were part of an
   effort to help the company "find its lost harmony, resolve
   widespread internal discord." He also said he had turned down
   offers from the New York Philharmonic and the Bayerisches
   Rundfunk, two of the world's top orchestras, in order to
   dedicate himself to La Scala.

   Mr.  Fontana, the sacked superintendent, says in an interview
   that Mr.  Muti had already lost the faith of the players.
   "In the history of La Scala, the orchestra has never before
   tried to sack a conductor," he says.  "This is an open revolt."

   Mr.  Muti has his supporters, particularly among the theater's
   board of directors and its financiers.  Michele Perini,
   president of the powerful local industrialists association,
   and a founding member of a foundation that funds a large chunk
   of the theater's budget, called the orchestra's call for Mr.
   Muti to resign "indecent."

   "I don't think in any company in the world, the workers get
   to choose their own boss.  I hope that the orchestra realize
   that they are not there by divine right," says Mr.  Perini,
   who has been attending performances for 30 years.  "Muti is
   the one who grew La Scala."

   On Mr.  Fontana's watch, Mr.  Perini adds, La Scala's budget
   came unhinged and it expects to have a deficit of more than
   $21 million for the most recently completed season.  "If
   Fontana had been the CEO of my company I would have already
   sent him packing," he says.  Mr.  Fontana says the budget
   woes are a result of a recent reduction in state funds.  The
   state still contributes nearly $54 million a year to keep La
   Scala going.

   The noise hasn't died down in Milan.  The Italian Senate is
   holding hearings in an effort to get to the root of the
   dispute.  Mr.  Fontana and Mr.  Malatesta, the trumpet player,
   have both been called as witnesses.

   Mayor Albertini has indicated that a likely solution will be
   to put the theater under the direction of a government-appointed
   administrator who would have broad powers.  Bring it on, say
   union leaders.  "La Scala was around long before Riccardo
   Muti, and it will be here long after he is gone," says union
   organizer Domenico Dentoni.

Larry Sherwood

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager