La Scala scandal
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#1 May 25, 2008
A fine article but the statement "world's greatest opera house" should be marked as an opinion by the author. You wouldn't find all that many singers who would agree with this outside of Italy. Even within Italy, the people who would support this statement might be smaller than one might think. There are several opera houses that night after night put on stronger performances, more numerous performances, have better orchestras and choruses and stronger casts. La Scala has become provincial in some ways and is certainly not the long looked forward to destination in a singers career that it once was. On top of that, the acoustics are not what everyone has been lead to believe and singers also have no desire to put up with the audience shenanigans that can take place in Milan. Rehearsals can be unorganized and messy and the discipline seen in many theaters is surely lacking. Until recently, the facilities for rehearsals, dressing rooms, and other aspects of artist comfort have been lacking. No, give me the Met, Vienna, Munich, Covent Garden, or Paris any day over La Scala. I'll even take many evenings in Chicago, San Francisco, Barcelona, or Hamburg.
#2 May 27, 2008
Italian orchestras are notorious for laziness, chaos, and indiscipline. Muti (a friend of the matchless Carlos Kleiber) has a gift for fantasy and form in equal measure, and Chicago is extraordinarily lucky to have him. La Scala finally declared its civil servant mentality: "Leave me alone, and I will do as little as possible. Make me play as if life depended upon it, and I will drive you out." Luckily, the great CSO has long understood the energy and demands of music, and has found in Muti a conductor who breathes the same beauty and drive. Typical anarchic Italy. Typical hard-working Chicago.
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