October 2015 marks the start of Alexander Pereira's reign as sovrintendente of one of the world's greatest theatres, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
Yesterday the city's mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, announced the Austrian's appointment,
He is the person we consider most suited to give true value to the jewel in Milan's crown.
So, coincidentally just as his present contract at Salzburg expires he will arrive in Milan. But he is no stranger to the town. He worked for Olivetti for twelve years and has an apartment near the theatre. His 25-year-old girlfriend is a fashion student at Milan's Istituto Marangoni. He speaks Italian fluently which gives him a big boost over La Scala's current director, the Frenchman Stéphane Lissner, who arrived with very little Italian, and still insists on calling his place of work ‘La ScalA' instead of ‘La ScAla'. Most of all, Pereira is famous for fundraising and keeping the budget in the black, a priority now for every opera house in the world.
The Culture Minister, Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, said,
This choice demonstrates the will to reward competence and managerial skills in a role crucial for the future of a theatre which, like all such institutions, struggles to balance the books.
The separatist Lega Nord, which now govern the Province of Lombardy, were strongly against the appointment. Matteo Salvini said,
They've killed the theatre. La Scala has been sold off according to the logic of business and obeying foreign lobbyists. Those who love Milan must shout, “No!”.
Pereira is delighted. He told Il Corriere della Sera newspaper,
I shall start working for La Scala tonight. Immediately.
He will be paid to work, however, from 2015, but he will receive 25% less than his predecessor: €260,000 a year. To balance the fact that he is Austrian, he wants to find an Italian music director to follow outgoing Daniel Barenboim.
I will try and choose a musical director as soon as possible. To function well the chief executive and music director must work very closely together.
Pereira is also known for his love of Italian opera.
When I was the head of Zurich Opera, I was criticized for my passion for Italian opera. They accused me of favouring the repertory of the south instead of that from the northern theatres. I love Italian opera, and I'll try to highlight it as much as possible.
Photo: Alexander Pereira and his Brazilian girlfriend Daniela Weisser De Sosa – RDB
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.