Italian opera buffs, Milan's Mayor and La Repubblica newspaper were angry and amazed when news from Austria revealed that the Salzburg Festival's current director, Alexander Pereira, was selling seven of its productions to La Scala, where Pereira will take over in October of this year. That is, he was selling his productions to himself. A conflict of interests?
La Repubblica asked one of their top journalists, Natalia Aspesi, to get to the bottom of things, and she spoke with Pereira in Moscow.
I want to let Milan know immediately the type of sovrintendente I'll be, and the type of productions I want to do there, so I have chosen the best of the Festival.
It was also falsely reported that all seven productions would be in the same season, whereas they will be spread over the first three seasons:
The four titles from Salzburg that will be divided over the 2015 and 2016 seasons cost Salzburg €4,450,000, and the Milanese theatre will get them at €690,000 each; a very good price. Salzburg has a budget of €65 million and the final balance is in the black.
Aspesi asked him why he'd chosen certain titles when La Scala itself has new productions of these operas – Robert Carsen's Falstaff for example:
Certainly, we'll be representing La Scala's 2013 co-production of Falstaff next year for the Milan Expo, and the production has already been on tour internationally. The Salzburg Falstaff will be part of the 2017 season. The director Michieletto has set it in Milan's ‘Giuseppe Verdi Rest Home'.
Two productions a year over a period of four years, when there are twenty operas each season, doesn't seem an abuse of power to me.
As a final provocation, Aspesi remarked that his job expenses were said to be hair-raising:
Up until now I have paid for everything myself, including travel!
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.