From today's Corriere della Sera, an article discussing Candide: as Opera Chic wrote last night, Stéphane Lissner’s earlier statement that cancelled Director Robert Carsen’s production of Bernstein’s Candide at La Scala is no longer valid -- Canadian director Robert Carsen has agreed to make changes that will allow the opera (that premiered in Paris earlier this month) to be staged here.
Lissner (General Manager of Teatro alla Scala) had made his decision to axe the opera from the 2006-07 rotation at Teatro alla Scala two days ago, which Opera Chic had reported here.
In today's interview, Lissner defends his earlier decision to cut Candide, and points out that what works in Paris and London doesn't necessarily work in Milan, and that Carsen's Paris Candide just wasn't in line with his artistic vision of what is suitable for Teatro alla Scala. Why?
According to Lissner -- that of course, cannot really admit to having caved into political pressure (the staging makes fun of ex Italia PM Berlusconi, among other politicians, and while Berlusconi is not PM anymore, his party is still all-powerful in Milan) -- the production was initially axed because Carsen took liberties with the libretto that weren’t approved for La Scala.
Lissner: “Candide” alla Scala se sarà revisionato da Carsen (Lissner: Candid will be at La Scala if it is revised by Carsen)
Il regista si è ditto disponibile all’operazione (The director said he was available to prepare [changes] to the operation)
L’allestimento di Parigi non è adatto a Milano (The staging in Paris is not adaptable to Milan)
The translation follows:
"Turned down the very first instance by Lissner, Candide could in certain reality, come back to La Scala. From New York came this announcement from the General Manager, after having spoken to Carsen via telephone. Carsen had always been loved by the Milanese audience, especially for his prior productions at La Scala of Dialogues des Carmélites and Kát'a Kabanová (the latter Opera Chic saw on March 22 this past year at La Scala, and thoroughly enjoyed it [despite Gardiner's pedestrian conducting]) (see image below), and told Lissner he is willing to assist Teatro alla Scala by substantially modifying the opera."
"Lissner said of Carsen, 'He proposed to me that we should meet together in January, and evaluate the opera together via DVD, scene for scene. I am a man of discussion, and a man of the theater. I decided to accept the offer. I know how much this opera is anticipated to appear at La Scala, and how disappointed everyone would be at its cancellation.'"
"The job ahead, however, is hefty and not easy, Lissner admits. He thinks back to the night of Santo Stefano (December 26, 2006), when he was with his 13-year-old son at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, in order to attend the popular opera, in which all of Paris was talking about, and an opera that was applauded by the public."
"Lissner said specifically of that night, 'I can confess, that to me, the opera was entertaining/enjoyable; but when it was over, my son whispered to me incredulously, ‘Dad, but is this show is coming to La Scala?’"
"'I tried to keep down a final giggle, and said to him, 'No, this opera won't come [to La Scala].'"
[The question is proposed to Lissner:] "But why then won’t Candide come to La Scala?"
[Lissner responds:] "Because it doesn't fit into my line of what is good for La Scala. At this point it comes down to an agreement between tradition and modernity. And I didn't make this decision because of the famous scene with the heads of state in their underwear. Simply, I made it for a load of other reasons; more specifically is that Carsen had made changes to the libretto. He added allusions and some situations in a style that just do not conform with those of La Scala."
[The question is proposed to Lissner:] "A good example of this may be the harsh jokes towards the church or the pedophile priests?"
[Lissner responds:] "I don't want to get into the details. I knew that people were saying that we must not censor things, and other such nonsense, but it’s not really like that at all. Candide is known to be a subversive work, and Carsen is truly an individual who is able to capitalize on that spirit. I knew this well [when he was hired for the job]. But whatever works at London and Paris for Carsen, is not necessarily successful at La Scala. I want to open La Scala to new ideas, to a diverse public, but without giving the impression of instigating controversy and provocation."
"Carsen said that he was disappointed and surprised at the decision, but is able to modify his opera."
I can't wait for the January tête-a-tête behind closed doors! Opera Chic promises to report all the details!