An Italian story…
Carlo Fuortes was brought in to manage the Rome Opera House at Christmas in 2013 when the theatre was on the verge of closing with a €32m debt. He overhauled the working practices and finances and knocked it back into shape.
In 2021 he became head of RAI, the Italian public broadcasting company. Yesterday he resigned from his post, mainly because of – to cut a long story short – too much political meddling from the new far right-wing government.
No here's the fun part… the government is passing a new law that will disqualify anyone over the age of 70 from running one of the state-funded opera houses. It just so happens that Stéphane Lissner, director of Teatro San Carlo in Naples (formerly director of the Paris Opera and La Scala) turned 70 last January. In a familiar scenario of Italian opera house musical chairs, he could be ousted leaving room for Fuortes to take over.
However, Lissner will hardly give up his €240,000 a year job without a fight, and his compensation could be extremely high.
Fuortes says that newspapers speculating about his future may not have it right and indicated that Teatro San Carlo may not be his next stop – La Scala has always been his main objective – but that would mean ousting 67-year-old Dominique Meyer, the current intendent at La Scala, who will be 70 in 2025. That is why many are guessing that the Naples post will be just a launching pad for Fuortes to arrive at La Scala and take up the reins at Italy's number-one opera house.
Then the purging of the French invaders will be complete.
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.
The last sentence contradicts the title of the article. I find it difficult to believe that the recent law was passed with the intention of “purging the French invaders”; it was passed with the intention of finding a cushy job for Fuortes.
Aside note, as far as I know, the average age of retirement in the EU is a few years under 70. If so why is this law, that applies both to Italians and foreigners, considered unfair? Why is it okay to put to pasture any Giovanni over 67, but not okay for bureaucrats and politicians in prominent positions? Why do they feel entitled to be kept in what is basically life tenure on a very cushy salary financed by the taxpayer? I’d like to know if opera managers step down at 67 or 70 in France. If not, why is it okay to ask ballet dancers to step down at 42 but not okay to ask bureaucrats to step down at 67 or 70? If bureaucrats do step down in France, why this outcry in Italy?