Callas never got the honor. Tebaldi never did, either. Neither did Di Stefano, or Pavarotti, or Bergonzi, or Kraus… and Roberto Alagna certainly did not get it.
But tonight, tenor Juan Diego Flórez -- during La Fille du Regiment -- decided to do an encore of an aria at La Scala, regardless of the fact that (Opera Chic hears) General Manager Lissner had already told Flórez that he would rather the tenor avoid the encore.
The fact is, Flórez received a privilege that so many great tenors, sopranos, and baritones had never received before here in the last hundred years.
Prior to tonight, it was La Scala policy not to perform any encores.
Before the reign of Toscanini, everyone did encores at La Scala. The house lights were up, the chatting competed with the singing, and encores would be slung left and right in an atmosphere more fitting a cabaret show than a serious opera (card games were teh rage and fortunes were lost -- and gained -- in the ridotto dei palchi. But this -- la Scala as high-stakes Vegas-style casino -- deserves a post in the future).
However, Toscanini was like scr*w this…we need darkness, silence in the audience, and NO MOAR ENCORES! He believed that encores were highly unprofessional because they broke the continuity and form of an opera. It was therefore anathema at La Scala, and pervaded in deference to the great Maestro.
The only exception was an aria encore in 1933 during a certain Barbiere (Toscanini was in the US anyway! lol). After that, during Muti’s leadership, the Va Pensiero chorus from Nabucco was repeated once in 1986, and then once again in 1996…but Va Pensiero is a completely different sentiment, because it is so popular in Italy -- there was talk of it replacing the national anthem, the supalam3 "Fratelli d'Italia" -- and also a choral piece (as opposed to an aria).
So what was witnessed tonight at La Scala had never happened here in the last century.
OMG SO LUCKY!!
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