Gala Premiere of ‘Don Carlo’ at La Scala to Celebrate Italian Opera as a Cultural Treasure

The official recognition of Italian melodrama as a global cultural treasure is a significant event that has garnered attention with La Scala’s season premiere of Verdi’s “Don Carlo.”

This opera delves into hot-button topics of power and oppression, resonating with contemporary societal issues.

The pre-performance kerfuffle surrounding the occupancy of the royal box at the Milan opera house reflects the intersection of art, politics, and history, adding layers of complexity to this cultural event.

La Scala, known for its off-stage melodrama as much as its on-stage performances, has once again found itself embroiled in controversy.

The dispute over who would occupy the prestigious royal box on opening night highlights the intertwining of artistic expression and political symbolism.

The decision to seat Senate Speaker Ignazio La Russa in the absence of Italy’s president and premier sparked protests from La Scala’s unions.

The unions’ objection stems from La Russa’s political affiliations, as a far-right politician who they claim has not adequately addressed Italy’s fascist past.

The choice of occupants for the royal box carries weighty significance, as it symbolizes the values and principles upheld by the institution.

The presence of a politician with controversial views in such a prominent position raises questions about the intersection of art and politics, and the responsibility of cultural institutions to uphold democratic and inclusive ideals.

The juxtaposition of La Russa with Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, a left-wing politician, in the royal box further underscores the political undertones of this event.

Amidst the political tensions, an act of symbolism and solidarity emerged as Mayor Sala extended an invitation to 93-year-old senator-for-life and Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre to join him in the royal box.

This gesture serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of historical injustices and the role of art in reflecting and addressing societal challenges.

The presence of a Holocaust survivor alongside political figures in the royal box encapsulates the complexities of history, memory, and reconciliation.

The controversy surrounding the royal box at La Scala’s season premiere underscores the enduring relevance of art in confronting societal issues.

The opera “Don Carlo,” with its exploration of power dynamics and oppression, serves as a poignant backdrop against which these contemporary debates unfold.

The convergence of political discourse, historical memory, and artistic expression at this cultural event highlights the multifaceted role of opera in shaping public discourse and fostering critical reflection.

In conclusion, the recognition of Italian melodrama as a global cultural treasure is not merely a celebration of artistic achievement, but a reflection of the complexities and contradictions inherent in society.

The controversy surrounding La Scala’s season premiere serves as a reminder of the enduring relevance of art in confronting societal challenges and the responsibility of cultural institutions to uphold democratic values.

As the world tunes in to witness the performance of “Don Carlo” at La Scala, it is not only an opera that takes center stage, but the intersection of art, politics, and history that captures our attention.

The labor organizations for theater workers at Teatro alla Scala have made it explicitly clear that fascists are not welcome within their institution.

In a formal statement, they declared their refusal to partake in any ceremonial institutional salute to individuals who have failed to denounce fascism, its colonial wars, and its alliance with Nazism.

The organizations emphasized the detrimental impact of such ideologies on the Italian people, citing the racial laws and the resulting bereavement and misery.

This stance reflects a commitment to upholding principles of anti-fascism and promoting a safe and inclusive environment within the theater.

It also serves as a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and confronting the historical and contemporary implications of fascist ideologies.

The statement further signals a call for accountability and responsibility among public figures and institutions in addressing the legacy of fascism.

The upcoming visit of La Russa to the backstage of La Scala during the intermission to greet Riccardo Chailly, the chief conductor, is expected to be met with a chilly reception from the musicians.

This is because La Scala has a rich history of asserting itself as an anti-fascist force during the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini, for instance, refused to play the fascist party anthem in the theater or elsewhere, which earned him a beating from Mussolini’s Blackshirts.

After World War II, Toscanini quickly rehired choral director Vittore Veneziani, who was forced out of his job by Italy’s antisemitic racial laws in 1938.

The start of the 2023-24 season at La Scala is set to serve as an unofficial national celebration of the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, which has recently included Italian lyric opera on its list of intangible cultural treasures.

This recognition by the global agency is a testament to the 400-year-old art form’s significance, which combines music, costume, and stage direction.

The Italian Culture Minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, who plans to attend the premiere, has called it “an official consecration of what we already knew: lyric opera is a global excellence, among those that best represent us around the planet.”

In conclusion, the upcoming season at La Scala is poised to be a momentous occasion for the Italian lyric opera and the country’s cultural heritage as a whole.

However, the theater’s storied history of anti-fascism and resistance to oppressive regimes may cast a shadow over La Russa’s visit to the backstage, which is expected to be met with a chilly reception from the musicians.

Nonetheless, the recognition of the lyric opera by UNESCO is a significant milestone that underscores its global importance and enduring legacy.

The upcoming gala premiere of ‘Don Carlo’ at La Scala, with Chially, the opera house’s music director, set to conduct, promises to be a significant event that highlights Italian opera as a cultural treasure.

The opera’s narrative, revolving around the intricate power dynamics between the king of Spain and his son, Don Carlo, embroiled in a love triangle while holding divergent views on the Spanish empire’s oppression of colonies, is a compelling and timeless theme.

Featuring a talented cast, including renowned La Scala premiere veterans such as Russian soprano Anna Netrebko portraying Elisabeth of Valois and Italian tenor Francesco Meli in the title role, the production is poised to deliver a captivating and memorable experience for audiences.

Lluis Pasqual, the stage director, aptly points out the opera’s enduring relevance, emphasizing its exploration of nationalism and religion, themes that continue to resonate in today’s world, especially amid the ongoing suffering in the Middle East.

Pasqual’s insight into the broader context of the opera’s themes underscores the enduring power of art to reflect and engage with contemporary societal issues.

Furthermore, La Scala’s season premiere is a significant cultural event in Europe, drawing together prominent figures from the cultural, political, and business spheres.

However, the event’s prominence also makes it a focal point for protests, leading to security measures such as the cordoning off of the center of Milan.

In essence, the convergence of exceptional artistic talent, timeless themes, and the high-profile nature of the event underscores the enduring significance of La Scala’s gala premiere of ‘Don Carlo’ as a cultural milestone, offering a unique opportunity for reflection, engagement, and appreciation of the arts within the broader context of contemporary society.

The appointment of Claudio Sgaraglia as Milan’s new prefect has brought about a new set of challenges for the city’s law enforcement agencies.

One such challenge has been the need to persuade the local police union to delay a strike that was scheduled to take place on Thursday, coinciding with the celebration of the patron saint St. Ambrogio and the commencement of the La Scala season.

The prefect’s task of convincing the police union to postpone their strike required a delicate balancing act, as he had to navigate the competing demands of the union’s members and the needs of the broader public.

Sgaraglia’s success in this endeavor demonstrates his ability to exercise effective leadership and diplomacy in a complex and high-stakes environment.

His efforts have ensured that the citizens of Milan can celebrate their cultural traditions without disruption and that the city’s law enforcement agencies can continue to provide the necessary services to maintain public safety and order.