An opera in Russian, with a 6pm starting time, attracted one and a half million viewers (over 9% of the share) on Italian television.
Certainly something of a success for La Scala's season opening considering that Italy is the home of Verdi and Puccini and all Italians have heard of Aida or La bohème, but I doubt that there is much familiarity with Boris Godunov.
Carlo Fuortes, former director of the Rome Opera House, and now the director of the national television service, the RAI (and rumoured to be in the frontrunning to become the next director at La Scala) said,
Once again great music reaches everyone thanks to the RAI. A great success for an opera like Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov that also speaks of our present times… The high-quality cultural programme that the RAI has offered this year by broadcasting the premiere of La Scala live on Rai1 [the most-watched channel] has been shown to be a winning choice, fulfilling our public service mission as well as providing a fundamental contribution to the diffusion of great music.
Italy has a dedicated arts channel, RAI5, but the decision was taken several years ago to transmit La Scala's opening live on RAI1 and it has paid off, building up a loyal following.
Silvia Calandrelli, the director of RAI Cultura, said,
The appointment with the La Scala premiere is a great commitment from the production point of view, and even more challenging when it comes to operas like Boris Godunov, which are rarely seen on TV. For Rai Cultura, being a public service means proposing great musical programming from Italian theatres not only on 7 December, but also throughout the year.
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.