Since being appointed Sovrintendente of La Scala, one of Alexander Pereira first aims was to entice back to the theatre some of the opera world's most famous singers, many of whom vowed not to return – or even not to even make their début – for fear of the legendary loggionisti. These are the people who dominate the upper levels of theatre and can be needlessly harsh on singers who are, for various reasons, not in favour.
Pereira wanted to bring back Roberto Alagna, who infamously stormed offstage six years ago, during a performance of Aida, after being booed. He has never returned.
Alagna and Pereira met to discuss the possibility three or four times, talking over three different projects. One was to sing in a concert performance of Werther on 23 and 25 November this year in honor of Georges Prêtre's 90th birthday. Another was for Tosca in June and July 2015, which is part of the Milan Expo celebrations, and the third, a new production in the autumn of 2016.
At the beginning of July, Alagna stayed in Milan for two weeks and saw several productions at the Milanese theatre and was surprised at the negative react
ions from the gods for everything he saw. Therefore, in light of this experience, he declined the offers from Pereira, and will not be returning in the foreseeable future.
During my stay in Milan, all the artists and staff of the theatre, and many of the loggionisti, gave me a warm welcome. However, I also attended all the performances given at La Scala in that period and all of them were booed. I was saddened and shocked. In these conditions, I just don't have the strength to put myself through so much stress.
Alexander Pereira says that he is saddened by Alagna's decision, but will persevere in his efforts to bring the biggest international names to Milan. He is keen that criticism should not be silenced, but that respect for the artists should be maintained, as well as that for the theatre itself and for the other spectators. He underlined the fact that only by being generous and helping artists to overcome the fear of treading the boards of La Scala, could the quality of the performances be improved.
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.