You may have already read about the refusal of some La Scala workers to perform Turandot on 1 May being that it is the International Workers' Day. However, it is also the opening day of the Milan Expo, and I doubt that the hotels, restaurants, taxis and other services will be refusing to work. The situation was resolved at the last minute and will go ahead with substantial bonuses arriving for the chorus, orchestra and techies.
On the eve of the opening, the Expo asked for a concert in the open-air in front of Milan's magnificent cathedral, the Duomo. Although the full line-up will not be announced until next week, rumour has it that Diana Damrau, Anna Netrebko and Gustavo Dudamel will join Andrea Bocelli, the singer who gave the concert to mark the one year countdown on 1 May last year. The State Television company, the Rai, hasn't yet finally agreed to to sums being discussed but, as time is running out, it is expected that they will do so soon, which will result in the orchestra and chorus receiving fat bonuses: 600% more for the day. This means that a musician on basic pay will receive €500 to €600 extra for the concert, while section leaders will receive €1,000 more in their wage packet.
However, La Scala's Musical Director, Riccardo Chailly, is not happy at all about the concert. He will be conducting the Turandot performances, the first in front of Prime Ministers, Presidents, and other VIPs, and he thinks that distracting the musical forces with two different programmes on consecutive evenings risks lowering the quality of both events. They will also be rehearsing Giorgio Battistelli's new opera CO2 in that period. According to the Repubblica newspaper he says that the open-air concert was insisted on by the Expo committee and he's called it “a right mess”.
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.