A series of emails between Cecilia Bartoli’s husband, Oliver Widmer, and the Intendant of La Scala, Alexander Pereira, confirm that the singer has withdrawn from all three Handel operas that were chosen as part of a project that she helped cultivate.
Dear Alexander, Cecilia is shocked by the decision not to extend your contract. In these circumstances, she does not believe that she can collaborate with La Scala. I am very sorry and I hope that we will be able to meet up together soon in another situation.
Pereira’s contract comes to an end next year, though he may continue until 2022 to oversee his planned seasons while his successor devises his own seasons from 2023 onwards. This would also coincide with the end of musical director Riccardo Chailly’s contract.
Pereira admires Bartoli greatly and has done much to have her appear at La Scala. He replied to Widmer:
You get results by being calm, and for the three operas with Cecilia, I still hope to be the Intendant of the theatre.
Whatever, he will still manage the theatre for the first opera in the trilogy, Giulio Cesare in mid-October of this year. Pereira added,
Don’t abandon me.
Speaking of abandonment, Cecilia is supportive of you. She just doesn’t appreciate the decision that has been made, and prefers to look ahead to another project with you in another place.
La Scala has removed her name from the cast: Cleopatra is “to be defined”.
Update: Cecilia Bartoli’s Facebook page on Sunday afternoon (23 June) posted this message,
When it was communicated on JUNE 18 that the contract of the actual general manager of the Teatro alla Scala Alexander Pereira was not extended, Cecilia Bartoli – as a sign of solidarity – withdrew from the new production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare on JUNE 19 and immediately requested the management of the Scala to cancel her name from the production list and not to sell tickets making reference to her.
The management of la Scala didn’t follow the request and on JUNE 21 started to sell tickets still indicating that Cecilia Bartoli is singing the role of Cleopatra. Cecilia Bartoli insisted again to correct but the Scala was not prepared to follow the request.
This unacceptable behavior forced Cecilia Bartoli to inform her fans via social media and on her website that she would not participate in the production.
Cecilia is very sorry that many of her fans have already bought tickets and hopes that this statement will help to understand the situation.
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.