(Nota Bene to Opera Chic's radio-loving readers: if you want to read about Opera Chic on the radio -- she took part yesterday in a live panel on teh beeb (BBC) with the juicy awesomeness that is Norman Lebrecht -- scroll down here).
You know, first La Scala writes on the tickets that gentlemen should always wear a jacket and a tie (We quote: "Formal dress is required at premiere performances. Gentlemen are requested to wear a jacket and tie at all other performances.").
More-or-less-unintended consequences: people are all like wtf? (especially the chronically under-dressed). Giorgio Armani is all like w00t and sez "buy my stuff youll look sassy and they'll nev4r kick you out". Nobel Prize Dario Fo p00ps on "elitist" La Scala. People start looking for their tuxedos from the 1970s, turquoise lapels and all, afraid that Lissner's Iron Fist will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to make fashion faux-pas.
Eventually Scala General Manager Stéphane Lissner, busy hacking all controversial scenes off of Robert Carsen's staging of Candide, finds the time to actually check out the back of his theatre's tickets.
And then (if you believe the pro-Lissner camp) he gets kinda pissed, apparently, BECAUSE THE WORDING APPROVED FOR OFFICIAL SCALA DOCUMENTS (like the Programma 2006/2007 that Opera Chic has rite here) WAS, AND IS, QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT. If you belong to the anti-Lissner camp, well, he simply backpeddled.
Yes rly. Because La Scala's official documents, in the "Regolamento di Sala", state literally that:
"E' gradito l'abito scuro per le prime rappresentazioni e sempre la giacca e la cravatta per i Signori. Si raccomanda comunque per tutte le rappresentazioni un abbigliamento consono al decoro del Teatro".
In English (and the italics are Opera Chic's): "A dark suit is appropriate; and, as always, a jacket and tie for the gentlemen. Anyway, we recommend for all the shows to wear clothing that is appropriately matched to the theatre's decorum".
To boil it down, wording such as "required" and "requested" do not belong to official La Scala policy -- they just appear on the back of tickets.
That's why Lissner finally spaketh. Officially Lissner stated (in a letter to daily La Repubblica, which cannot be found online) the following:
"...non ho mai emanato alcuna norma nuova né tanto meno restrittiva in materia d' abbigliamento... i «consigli» rivolti al pubblico, che genericamente riguardano un invito a indossare giacca e cravatta e a adottare un «abbigliamento consono al decoro del teatro» per le donne, esistono da sempre alla Scala... Non esistono dunque norme restrittive, se non quelle del buon gusto e del rispetto della storia del Teatro, per l' accesso alla Scala, che proprio su mia iniziativa ha lanciato quest' anno un Progetto Giovani che tende a un democratico allargamento del pubblico".
"I've never ordered a new, restrictive dress code... the 'advice' to the audience is generic, and aims toward jacket and tie for the gentlemen and appropriate dress for the ladies, have always existed at La Scala... Hence there are no restrictive regulations, with the exception of the respect for good taste and the history of the theatre, to access La Scala. On my initiative La Scala has launched this year a 'Project Youth' to further enlarge and democratize the audience".
So who wrote the, "Formal dress is required at premiere performances. Gentlemen are requested to wear a jacket and tie at all other performances" bit, in pretty clear and harsh wording? Opera Chic has a suspect: Roberto Alagna. He probably hax0red into La Scala's computers and printed that stuff on the back of the tickets. Why? Because those who booed him, he noticed, weren't wearing a tie.
The last words re: how to dress for an opera show rightly belong to Giuseppe Filianoti (in the linked article's larger photo, he is dressed for an audition to a Starsky & Hutch Broadway musical): "You look normally!".
You cannot say it any better than that.