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Musical chairs in Italy: ex-Scala chief bids to head Verdi year, Florence aims to fire Maggio boss

It’s August, the worst month for job security in Italian opera when everyone’s away at the seaside, plotting like Brutus.

We’re hearing that the former sovrintendente of La Scala Carlo Fontana is plotting to oust his old rival Mauro Meli as head of Teatro Regio and the Verdi Festival of Parma, just in time for the composer’s bicentenary next year. His partner as artistic director is Paolo Arcà, who has quit the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which is in turmoil after mass layoffs ordered by its sovrintendete Francesca Colombo. The Fontana-Arcà ticket for Verdi year has been dreamed up by the new mayor of Parma, a member of the supposedly ‘anti-political’ Cinque Stelle party.

In Florence, meanwhile, a majority on the City Council has asked the mayor to fire Ms Colombo. Zubin Mehta, the veteran music director, is said to be confused, upset and furious about the situation, as are we all. They’re playing politics, as ever, with the future of Italian music.

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  1. That reads as plausibly as your average opera libretto. The major difference is that in opera libretti the main characters are usually in love with another of the main characters; the abiding emotion here seem to be self-love.

  2. Unfortunately, In every city in Italy the Mayor is the head of the Opera Theatre. I sincerely hoped that Mr. Fontana had permanently retired.

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