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Monday 22 September 2014

La Scala boss sacked before debut

Published 15/05/2014 | 19:47

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La Scala opera house is in turmoil over the latest development

The famous La Scala opera house is sacking its new general director after just one season - before he officially even starts work.

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Salzburg Festival director Alexander Pereira was given a five-season contract, but the La Scala board in Milan voted to remove him after the forthcoming 2014/15 season amid allegations of a conflict of interest.

Chairman Giuliano Pisapia said Pereira over-reached his powers by making a deal for La Scala to buy four operas from the Salzburg Festival, where he is still director, before officially assuming his role in La Scala on October 1.

Pereira, who spent two decades at the Zurich Opera before heading to Salzburg in 2011, has said he was following common practice in transition periods for European theatres.

Not since Ricardo Muti was pushed out as musical director in a worker mutiny nearly a decade ago has there been so much turmoil in La Scala's ranks. The controversy risks damaging La Scala's prestige just as Milan prepares to host Expo 2015, the world fair that will feature a concert series at La Scala.

Pereira's curtailed tenure could have consequences for La Scala's musical direction. Pereira had already brought on Riccardo Chailly, replacing Daniel Barenboim in the role of musical director.

Barenboim bowed out two years early to make way for Pereira's choice.

Pereira, 66, was named last June to replace Frenchman Stephan Lissner, who departs on September 1 for the Paris Opera after nine seasons at La Scala.

Pereira has been working at La Scala in the intervening period, as Lissner has been working on his transition into the Paris Opera.

The La Scala board has sent Pereira a letter outlining its terms: that he direct the forthcoming season that opens on December 7 and that he agrees to step down on December 31 next year.

Pereira has not responded to the letter.

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