Yesterday evening, during a concert at La Scala, Riccardo Chailly stopped the entire orchestra and chorus after a phone rang.
The Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus were performing the moving ‘Patria oppressa' chorus from Macbeth when the mobile phone joined in. Chailly turned to the auditorium saying: “Go ahead and answer, we will resume later.”
During the press conference earlier in the day to announce La Scala's 2022-2023 season, Chailly witnessed the theatre's director being similarly interrupted – though it was by a classical ringtone.
The concert in the evening was part of a series, running until tomorrow, performing Verdi opera choruses from Nabucco, I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata, Ernani, Don Carlos, Il Trovatore, La forza del destino, Aida, and Macbeth.
Chailly addressed the audience:
You see friends, there are many of us here on this great Verdi journey with the orchestra and chorus of La Scala, but we are not alone because we are making a recording for Decca in London so there will be many more of us. This is something of importantance.
‘Patria oppressa' with the persistent interruption of a mobile phone is just not possible.
After much applause from the audience, Chailly resumed the performance. No one answered the phone.
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.
Bravo, Chailly. More people should object including audience members. I was recently at a ballet performance where ringing phones were heard 3 or 4 times in another section, along with some conversations.