On Tuesday evening (1 March), La Scala’s Intendant Dominique Meyer wrote a letter to Valery Gergiev informing him that La Scala will now hand over to a new conductor the performances of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades that recommence on Saturday 5 March.
On the morning of 24 February, following the night-time invasion of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army, Meyer (in agreement with the Mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala, who is also President of the La Scala Foundation) wrote a letter to the Maestro inviting him to express his support for the peaceful resolution of disputes, in line with the provisions of the Italian Constitution. Having received no reply six days later, and with only three days before the next performance, the theatre has been obliged to find a substitute.
The remaining performances of The Queen of Spades will be conducted by Timur Zangiev, who conducted many of the rehearsals before Gergiev arrived for the dress rehearsal and opening night, and is respected by the orchestra. Zangiev is a conductor at the Stanislavsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, and a guest conductor at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres. He was born in Moscow in 1994 and started his training to be a conductor at a musical school affiliated with the Valery Gergiev Arts College in Vladikavkaz. It was there that he first conducted an orchestra when he was just seven.
La Scala has reiterated its support for “the Ukrainian citizens who are victims of the aggression and for the many Russian citizens who have courageously expressed their condemnation of the war in recent days.”
The Theatre added, “Our theatre will always remain a place for discussion and debate between different traditions and cultures.”
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.