Dominique Meyer became La Scala's CEO on 1 March 2020, just a couple of days before the first closure of Italian theatres. While the theatre has been closed, he's been preparing not only for the streamed performances but thinking about ways to reforge the theatre's future.
We've started a digitalisation project that will involve replacing the subtitle system in the auditorium [at present, each seat has a small screen incorporated] and we want to install fixed cameras so that we can regularly broadcast the performances, streaming them as we did when I was in Vienna. In the theatre I have found many young people who are prepared and enthusiastic; I am 65 years old, and I would like to prepare the La Scala of tomorrow… the future is theirs.
We also want to be ready so that if we can't have an audience, we will be able to continue until the summer with live TV broadcasts, either with the RAI [the state broadcaster] or with streamed performances. We plan to protect the jobs of our artists and other employees, and above all, to move forward.
The streamed concerts so far have been an extraordinary success: [conductor] Lorenzo Viotti has had more than 140,000 hits.
Meyer also wants to make La Scala greener.
We want to eliminate the ten tonnes of paper that the theatre consumes every year. When opera singers travel nowadays, they prefer to study their part on a tablet rather than in a printed score: we will think about something similar for the orchestra in the future. We are also looking at ways to reduce the waste that the opera house produces.
Tonight's broadcast of Così fan tutte will be the first staged opera under the Covid safety guidelines, and the end of this month will see the first ballet, Giselle. In the coming months, Zubin Mehta will conduct Damiano Michieletto's new production of Strauss' Salome, as well as an orchestral concert. Maurizio Pollini will play an all-Schumann programme, Riccardo Chailly will conduct a Barbiere di Siviglia, and Fabio Vacchi's Madina (cancelled last season) will combine both opera and ballet. There will be a Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev with extracts from his ballet productions staged at La Scala, and Le Nozze di Figaro will return in Giorgio Strehler's celebrated production to mark what would have been the director's 100th birthday. Rossini's Stabat Mater will be performed with the chorus spaced out in the auditorium's boxes, and in May, Riccardo Muti will visit with the Vienna Philharmonic.
The workers' union is pleased, and said,
So the discussion on digitalisation and ecology has started. We are also ready to discuss new working methods. We hope that it will be possible to organise a special event on 11 May to mark the 75th anniversary of the theatre's reconstruction after the bombing.
Dominique Meyer was talking to the Repubblica newspaper
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.