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Wrong by wrong

The board of La Scala voted today to oust incoming general director Alexander Pereira at the end of his first season amid allegations of a conflict of interest. [AP]

65 comments

  • 1
    kashania says:

    Good lord! That entire institution needs to be torn down and rebuilt. Why would anyone want to assume its leadership?

  • 2
    Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

    From the world leading theater to a provincial circus.

  • 3
    kashania says:

    Apparently, they have one stage hand union for stage right and another one for stage left, and neither side is allowed to cross the stage.

    And the musicians’ union has some stipulation that (I’m paraphrasing), in rehearsal, they can only be asked to repeat a section twice. If the conductor asks them to do it a third time, they put down their instruments.

    This is an arts institution; it’s bizarro world!

    • 3.1
      kashania says:

      Argh. This *isn’t* an arts institution.

    • 3.2
      Camille says:

      That’s Italian.

      They have to be home in time for the all holy IL PRANZO.

      What a mess and how sad to contemplate, along with the current mess at the MET.

      • 3.2.1
        umangialaio says:

        It’s always sad and disagreeble, but also very instructive, to find out shades of racial thinking in casual comments by people one shares a passion with.

        U

        • 3.2.1.1
          La Cieca says:

          Italian is a race?

          • umangialaio says:

            Races exist only in racial thinking and its byproducts, like ehtnic and national stereotypes.

            U

          • oedipe says:

            Umangialaio,

            For the sake of clarity, you should be using the term “racialist” instead of “racial” in this context. And BTW, I know exactly what you are trying to say here.

            • umangialaio says:

              Well, no, because that would exactly blur my point.
              Please read “race-thinking”, after Paul Gilroy, where I wrote “racial thinhking”,if that helps.

              Ulisse

            • oedipe says:

              For info, racialism as a term can be defined as: “ascribing racial traits to an ethnic group or nationality and making generalizations about this group of people based on such supposedly racial traits”.

              e.g. “Italians are lazy, ineffectual and behave like sexual predators”.

        • 3.2.1.2
          Camille says:

          Egregious Ulysses! Your wife, Penelope, called. She said to hurry home for IL PRANZO because she is entertaining guests and what the hell is taking you so long?!???

          What a load of pappardelle! My casual, real life quotidian experience of the Roman pranzo ritual for three years informs my comments and certainly not “racism” or any of the other pretentious tweedledee and twiddleDUM twaddle you care to initiate based on your thin-skinned reaction to my accurate personal observations.

          If there is anyone “racist”, as you are mistakenly are wont to call it, it would be what I found to be the shocking snobbery one region has against another, as in:
          Milano looks down on Firenze looks down on Umbria looks down on Roma looks down on Napoli looks down on Salerno looks down on Reggio di Calabria.

          And everyone looks down on Sicilia, which everyone agrees is just Africa.

          And pardon me for saying Italy is a mess but it is and I hate the fact that its marvelous cultural beauty and patrimony is going down the drain. At Villa Borghese right now they have priceless paintings being assaulted by the smog and pollution since no one can afford, in TUTTA ROMA! to pay the electricity bill for those salons with some of the most beautiful works I’ve seen. Granted the Bernini Apollo will take some time to rovinare.

          Yes, it IS instructional to read what others have to say for one may glean a great deal about their own respective failings as they fling their lack of comprehension around.

          Bella Giornata. I see it is now 13:00 and time for me to tuck into my papardelle alle nocciole and then take un bel riposino.

          P.S. Next time, Ulisse Mangiatutto, fling your polpette at someone who has not lived there and who doesn’t know the drill. This ain’t my first time at the old rodeo.

          And bring home a couple extra bottles of vino da tavola or even retsina will do, as the guys are getting restless waiting for Il Maestro to arrive home, not to mention la misera Penelope.

    • 3.3
      papopera says:

      Fellini’s Prova d’Orchestra ?

      • 3.3.1
        tannengrin says:

        thank you, thank you, thank you! That’s exactly the movie I was thinking of when I read the post earlier, and I could not come up with its title. You gave me back my peace of mind!

      • 3.3.2
        Camille says:

        Papopera, I could kiss you. Exactly, and to wit:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=117lRRfd0ws&sns=em

        Now, who has le palle enorme to accuse FEDERICO FELLINI of “racism”? Maestro Fellini, with whom I worked at Cinecittà and whom I absolutely adored, described the Romans, and I paraphrase, as concerned with two and only two chakra centers: the one at the stomach, and the one there below.

        This is number one of seven of Prova d’orchestra, which I highly recommend for a peek at life as it was.

  • 4
    Satisfied says:

    To add insult to injury: La Scala *still* hasn’t announced its 2014/2015 season. What a way to bring bad attention to what would otherwise be celebratory news.

    • 4.1
      Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Do remember that their season opens in December, not September -- they aren’t on the same schedule as most major houses.

      • 4.1.1
        Satisfied says:

        That’s true, but La Scala generally announces their season along with every other major company in the months of April or May. If I’m not mistaken, they announced the 2013/2014 schedule in early April last year.

  • 5
    redbear says:

    Don’t anyone let facts get in the way of your hysteria. Stephane Lissner, the departing chief of La Scala, during his press conference at La Scala yesterday, talked of his nine years as both artistic director and managing director. There were nine years of balanced budgets. The number of operas, the repertory and numbers of performances were increased. New commercial sponsorship replaced declining budgets. Some guy named Barenboim was persuaded to be music director and many productions were televised around the world. Anyone who was paying attention noted a significant increase in artistic quality. His work on the next season was done and the next was mostly accomplished. He will take over in Paris July 1 where the next season was already announced. A good leader and manager can create miracles, even in Milan.

    • 5.1
      Lady Abbado says:

      “Don’t anyone let facts get in the way of your hysteria”.
      Ha ha ha -- loved it!

      Speaking of La Scala, is anyone going to attend Gheorghiu’s recital there tomorrow? If so, I hope for a report (unless Opera Chic will provide one). They booed Bartoli recently, so why not Gheorghiu?

      + Not out of character, on her Facebook, she refers to Jeff Cohen as “her pianist” (one wonders who is her butler).

      • 5.1.1
        Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

        I don’t see a reason to attend. I watched clips from her concert in Barcelona and she was outrageous. Should retire already.

        • 5.1.1.1
          Lady Abbado says:

          That night the wild side of her personality came through, to the point of embarrassing those who value propriety and decorum. The hormonal “highlight” was the reference to Gina Lolobrigida and the frivolous gestures that followed:

          But the singing itself wasn’t any better or worse than her usual stuff. At La Scala she will have to behave, because she’s singing lieds and she has only the piano for support (so she’s not going to attempt some wild Granada or other items that make one wonder whether she’s about to take her clothes off).

          • Poison Ivy says:

            Lady Abbado, clearly you haven’t seen Gheorghiu slinking about as if she’s about to make love to the grand piano:

            • Lady Abbado says:

              If she’s like this on stage, I wonder what she does in the bedroom. What can make her happy? Twins in their twenties, if one is to judge from her recent Facebook pics…

            • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

              She’s lucky her shoulder did not unhinge the post holding the lid. That would have been a riot.

            • mia apulia says:

              guess I’m a sucker, I still find the basic sound of the voice very attractive and far more interesting that many others…..and, of course, I don’t HAVE to watch

            • Krunoslav says:

              This is like Idina Menzel playing at “Kim Kardashian, Saloon Singer”.

            • La Cieca says:

              This is, as the saying goes, the sort of thing you’ll really like if you really like that sort of thing. I am impressed at how well the voice is preserved, at least in this lighter material. The tone is really lovely. And she clearly loves what she is doing.

              I agree that she would make a better and more impressive effect if she did maybe a quarter as many gestures and a tenth as many facial moues. But she is who she is, and for all the antics, there’s something there that is ravishing.

            • operaddict says:

              Angela is an entertainer as well as a singer with a ravishing voice and with looks like a movie star. Judging from the audience’s reaction, I would say she knows what she’s doing, and in doing that, delivers the goods right on the money.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              A singer entertains by interpretation and truthfulness to the piece they’re performing. Gheorghiu entertains the way a clown does. It looks like a parody. There are pieces where one can act silly but not all of them. Here’s an example where she’s completely out of touch with what she’s performing. First of all, it’s obvious she doesn’t know the aria well, then she demonstrates her nonexistent knowledge of what it’s actually about, third, her behavior is distracting and adds nothing to the piece. All in all, a big nothing.

              And when it comes to the audience, the concert was far from a sellout. Hate to compare singers, but a certain other diva has sold out her upcoming gig there a long time ago at higher prices. And hers won’t feature a poodle tenor sidekick.

            • oedipe says:

              Hate to compare singers, but a certain other diva has sold out her upcoming gig there a long time ago at higher prices.

              If you are referring to the Liceu, NO gig has sold out this season (it’s crisis time in Barcelona), with the possible exception of Oh.My.God JK. If you are referring to La Scala, Gheorghiu’s recital has been sold out for weeks now. Bref, I don’t know what you are talking about.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Oh I like it a lot. I like over the top recitals. And AG does a lot with this simple little love song. I’m just saying that she’s not likely to be more buttoned-up simply because it’s a piano recital.

            • Milady DeWinter says:

              I guess then this is the sort of thing I like -- in small doses. She’s lovely and charming. True, as Cieca points out, maybe a ratchet or two down of the demeanor, but she’s prima donna through and through, for good and bad, and still sounds good after a long time before the public. She looks good too, and not in a “well-rested” way!

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I think Gheorghiu’s non ti scordar di me here is just gorgeous. It’s SUCH a distinctive, beautiful voice, and it’s nice to see her off copy and relaxed.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              oedipe, my bad. I was referring to el Palau de la Musica where a certain diva’s concert was sold out. Now I see she’s rescheduled it for December and there are available tickets.

            • oedipe says:

              Netrebko? She has cancelled a whole series of concerts all over Europe, due to a bout of laryngitis. One of them was to take place in Baden-Baden, and she didn’t reschedule it (she has rescheduled all the others, I believe). The people in Baden-Baden have no luck with Anna: first she cancelled the Faust she was supposed to sing there, then this.

          • CwbyLA says:

            God forbid an opera singer decides to have fun at the end of a recital. Then we complain about the end of classical music as we know it, not being able to connect to younger audiences, blah blah…

          • manou says:

            And here is La Lollo -- separated at birth?:

          • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

            And then AnZHela played mind games with them.

      • 5.1.2
        oedipe says:

        Oh dear! Some of the comments here are textbook examples of what Edward Saïd meant by Orientalism. All this Anglo-Saxon fantasizing about some exotic (Southern European) supposedly lascivious sexuality! Amazing.

    • 5.2
      Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

      Well, what did you expect him to say? “I fucked the whole place up”?

  • 6
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    I don’t get it. Why even let him reign over one season if they are so bent on dismissing him? Tro debum out and Chailly with him.

  • 7
    Marcello says:

    I expected Pereira to run into problems with the unions and/or the politicians sooner or later. But so early? It seems that after 20 years in Zurich where the politicians and the rest of board fell over themselves to accommodate him and he could do as he pleased, he just cannot imagine that somebody (in Salzburg or in Milan) would question his actions and not be in awe of his financial cleverness.
    On the other hand, Lissner has programmed a number of co-productions without problems (only recently Tsar’s Bride with Berlin and Elekta with just about everyone). So this seems to be a question of style.
    By the way: the Scala season does not start until 7 December so there is plenty of time to announce the plans. I understand that the press conference was planned beginning of May, but was postponed because of the current problems with Pereira.

    • 7.1
      redbear says:

      Lissner officially leaves for Paris only in July. Periera, leaving Dec 2015, was only “designated” and probably should have asked someone before spending La Scala money. The next season is, of course, Lissner’s planning as the next season in Paris Is Joel’s.

  • 8
    turings says:

    In (sort of) related news, Ian Campbell has now officially left San Diego, though they are still working on a settlement:

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/May/15/san-diego-opera-campbell/?#article-copy

    They’ve raised over 3 million of the 3.5 million they need for next year’s season – good news.

    • 8.1
      antikitschychick says:

      terrific news!!! Thank you for sharing that turings! Finally something positive amidst all the chaos!!

      I think the ousting of Pereira is premature…they should at least allow him to be general director for 3 seasons since the previous general manager already planned the next season and half of the following one according to what redbear stated. If they are only going to have him on for one season they might as well get someone else.

    • 8.2
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      It is really excellent news that the new Board had the guts to officially oust Campbell and his Frau. There was an earlier announcement to expect a surprising announcement of the person (someone well-placed in the opera business) to be engaged as their new artistic consultant. Billinghurst?

  • 9
    toitoitoi says:

    She sounds great, she looks great, she’s giving a performance rather than phoning it in; what’s not to like?

    • 9.1
      antikitschychick says:

      Ya know I watched the clip and I actually agree toitoitoi lol. She sounded very good and I didn’t find her gesturing overdone or unnatural at all…to me it just looked like she was mostly just circling the piano, not ‘slinking’ or prancing but teto. I still don’t care for her as an artist but I liked this rendition. It was a saloon-style performance, just slightly more classy. At least that was my impression.

  • 10
    Lady Abbado says:

    Gheorghiu gave an interesting interview about Pereira and the situation at La Scala in La Repubblica. Link here:

    http://milano.repubblica.it/cronaca/2014/05/16/news/angela_gheorghiu_pereira_uomo_d_affari_ora_ci_vorrebbe_un_italiano-86308561/

    Is it wise to complain about La Scala’s audience in the morning of the day when you are going to perform there?

    • 10.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      Well we know she isn’t the brightest bulb in the box don’t we. I hate when singers clown around at recitals. I also don’t like the chit chatty ones.

      • 10.1.1
        Lady Abbado says:

        I don’t care personally about her clowning and lack of inhibition at all -- Mariella Devia could borrow some from Gheorghiu -- but I do care about how Gheorghiu is perceived in the operatic community. I know there are plenty of people who value restraint, propriety, and decorum, and I know they are gonna penalize Gheorghiu for not conforming. So when I get to see videos like the ones posted, I get heart palpitations at the thought that she’s putting off lots of critics.
        For example, the reviews I’ve read of her Barcelona concert all focused on her excess histrionics and didn’t see past them to the quality of the singing itself & the beauty of the tone still left after three decades of singing.

        • 10.1.1.1
          Cicciabella says:

          I don’t think you need to worry on behalf of Gheorghiu, Lady A. If the way she presents herself precludes people from appreciating what a marvellous singer she is, with one of the most beautiful soprano voices ever, it’s their loss. I heartily disagree with FM’s remark about her intelligence. I think she’s very intelligent, although not always media savvy, but she plays her intelligence down. She is criticised for her limited rep, but she never sings a role on stage that she has not fully mastered technically. Her recorded catalogue is actually very varied.

          I think Gheorghiu makes a lot of people uncomfortable, not only because of her outspokenness, but because she doesn’t try to rein in her very evident sex appeal. We live in supposedly liberal times, but her kind of unfettered, anarchic sensuality still rattles the order of things. She’s an original nonconformist and you can’t be one without raising a few hackles.

          • Lady Abbado says:

            “Her kind of unfettered, anarchic sensuality still rattles the order of things”.

            Very nicely said!

            By the way, I happen to think that her rendition of Bellini’s “Vaga Luna” from the same 2013 recital in LA is the best ever:

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I came across this recently too and was blown away. I think it COULD have been the best ever if she’d been free of the copy, but for me it is just a little earth-bound because of that. Tebaldi’s remains the best ever in my house!

            • Cicciabella says:

              Pure magic! Thank you for posting this.

  • 11
    oedipe says:

    A compromise has been reached, apparently, regarding Pereira: he stays in place for the upcoming season and the one after and he is supposed to leave in 2016. Then, vedremo…

    • 11.1
      kashania says:

      Well, that’s an improvement at least.

    • 11.2
      manou says:

      …and also

      Noi voleremo, -- Domanderemo,
      Ricercheremo, -- Ritroveremo.

      • 11.2.1
        redbear says:

        He’s smart to hang around. I suspect, when temperatures cool down and he starts to work, the possibility of him being extended is real. At Zurich, for example, his record is good (he spotted and nurtured the talent of some tenor named Kaufmann). He does need to have a credit card limit, however. Just ask Salzburg.

  • 12
    Lady Abbado says:

    The first pirate video of Gheorghiu at La Scala this evening is on Youtube (16 May recital):
    Io son l’umile ancella

    • 12.1
      Poison Ivy says:

      Well the sound quality is poor but she sounds unusually weak and she goes flat at the end of the aria. Not her best rendition.

    • 12.2
      Camille says:

      Atroce mi chiamo“.

      Angela, for pity’s sake, take a breath after “atroce” or they will be calling you atrocious.

  • 13
    m. croche says:

    Speaking of which, a reminder:

    Sunday at 2 PM Eastern time there will be a live radio broadcast of Elektra from La Scala. Cast: Herlitzius, Pieczonka, Meier, Pape, Randle, Mazura [!], conducted by Salonen.

    Link is here.