NOTE: IF YOU WANT TO READ TONIGHT’S BREAKING NEWS ON THE ALAGNA LAWSUIT AND HIS MEDICAL CERTIFICATE, PLEASE GO TO THE POST BELOW. HERE OPERA CHIC FINALLY HAS THE TIME TO GIVE YOU SOME MUCH-NEEDED AFTER-THE-FACT ANALYSIS.
Sooooo, I am just back from an exciting dinner with one of my sources, and now that the breaking news seems to have stopped coming-in (at least for tonight), we finally have the time to sit down with a nice glass of Le Grive 2003, and think about everything that has happened these last few days since the Alagna walk-out; especially try to make sense of the madness.
There are two main theories about the booing incident circulating here in Milan, and Opera Chic personally leans towards the second. But we shall see.
Theory #1: It boils down to the fact that you don’t need a hundred co-conspirators to boo a singer. You just need a handful. Maestro Riccardo Muti, who was for all practical purposes, fired by the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra after a twenty-year reign, and widely hated by the majority of the loggionisti, still has a small, but very loud set of supporters.
So, the theory goes: Muti’s nostalgic supporters are outraged at the fact that exactly one week after La Prima in Milan (tomorrow night) Maestro Muti will conduct a Don Pasquale in provincial Ravenna, and no one cares at all, because all attention is on Teatro alla Scala. They decided to teach a little lesson to Roberto Alagna, a tenor prominent on Muti’s own sh*t-list. La Scala celebrates her victory over Muti by hiring Muti’s enemy, who had been blacklisted by Maestro Muti for over ten years? Okay, we will show Alagna how much we “love” him, and cheer him with a mighty round of booing.
Theory #2: Some reliable loggionisti, happy that Muti had left, realized that either Alagna personally, or La Scala management, actually planted “la claque”, the famously hired hit-men who came to prominence, especially in the post-war era at Teatro alla Scala.
Just go back to the video from Sunday night, and notice that when the aria stops, there’s some very quiet applause, but no booing just yet. Then, after a few seconds, the booing starts. The reason (somebody who was in the loggione Sunday night assures me) is that somebody, clearly planted either by Alagna or by the La Scala management, yelled “Bravo” at least once or twice. That was the initial spark, that convinced people to start booing. Ironically, not booing the performance, per se (it was a B- performance, but certainly not an outrage), but booing at the presence of “la claque” itself. According to this theory, the booing started mostly as retaliation to “la claque”.
Opera Chic herself has a very clear idea of what she would do if she were in charge of La Scala’s general management. I’d personally accept the prodigal son back into the house, and then slaughter a giant cow to appease the opera gods.
Some of my dear readers have been emailing me and asking: So, what’s up with the “leaked video" (Embedded Video Link Warning) that is found on the multimedia pages of La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera? Well, it’s not exactly leaked, and it’s certainly not bootlegged.
Neither Teatro alla Scala or Decca have been responsible for the actual filming of the productions that we are seeing online. La Scala, for the past few years, have been contracting their recordings to Rai Trade, who offer to La Scala a wide range of television and film productions for their events. La Scala basically does not have the technology to make a DVD, so they have their agreement with the provider, Rai Trade, the marketing arm of the government-owned, huge RAI broadcast system. Rai Trade is the exclusive worldwide distributor for La Scala Theater, Ferrara Musica, and the Maggio Fiorentino programs among many others (and you can check-out their pdf. brochure here).
In the past, La Scala had chosen TDK or Universal, or other big labels to publish their DVD recordings of the performances. The small clip from the unfortunate (but, c'mon, totally hilarious) performance of the Alagna walk-out from Sunday night was first broadcast here to the public on RAI Tre television channel, and then later uploaded on several internet sites. It’s not bootleg, because La Scala regularly licenses newsworthy snippets to be broadcast to the public.
Of course, La Scala must have realized that the clip would be broadcast as part of a negative story. But then again, the video also shows that the audience's reaction was not as savage as some of the initial press reports would have indicated.