In today’s Corriere, Alagna shares with the public a few quotable gems during a recent interview regarding his current Manon in Vienna, his three recent cancellations in Italy, and his struggling relationship with Teatro alla Scala. On first read, it comes across as hilarious. On the second read: not so funny.
The article, "Alagna a Star in Vienna; I will Sue La Scala: In Italy, Also Abandoned by Zeffirelli; I Will Block the Aida DVD," begins with some Roman slang:
"In Italy they call him, ‘The Tenor Of The Three Holes.’" [ed: In Roman slang, cancellations & no-shows are regarded as "holes", so he's a tenor "delle tre buche", or "of three holes". All three are alluding to the La Scala Aida, the Opera di Roma La Traviata, and the 57th Sanremo cancellations.]
- Alagna begins: “If a colleague cancels an engagement, nothing happens. If I cancel, it’s like an earthquake.” Alagna continues, “They call me and Angela ‘The Bonnie and Clyde of Opera’: Angela didn’t know what it had meant, so I bought the movie for her. She cried. [ed: omg no way] But the truth is that all of the theaters want me. After Milan, I’m a celebrity.”
- On his cancellation of Sanremo: “They (The Staatsoper) had given me permission to sing in Sanremo, and I wanted the challenge, I was curious.”
Then Alagna addresses his feelings towards La Scala, and regards the management in a dismissive tone as “Those People”. He feels “betrayed” by Zeffirelli, and continues-on about Zeffirelli's false enthusiasm, saying, “He was crazy with joy. He told me that he had never cast a couple that loves each other in real life, and then he gave me an autographed copy of his book with a dedication that I won’t even begin to describe to you.”
- On his flight from the stage at La Scala: “I was abandoned by everybody. After the crowd booed me, I was ready to come back. I would have looked straight at the audience, and I would have asked, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, shall we go on?’ But my replacement was already there on the stage.”
- On the La Scala lawsuit: “La Scala did indeed forbid me to sing via their lawyers. But they unilaterally broke the contract. So I sued.”
- On the forthcoming Decca-produced Aida DVD: “I called Decca. I won’t authorize the sale of a DVD of Aida in which you are only able to see the sets, or where the singers are indistinguishable and far away. I’m a producer, too, and I know how to make a good video. I asked that we add to the video -- as special content -- a scene of the crowd booing me. They cannot publish anything without my consent. The people side with me. Do you know how many records I’ve sold in 2006? 970,000! Find me another singer who did that. I’d do it all over again.”
- On the police threats from December 10, 2006 when he showed-up at La Scala against their wishes: “Somebody at La Scala spread some gossip. They said I had fled to Paris, but all of that was lies. That’s why I showed up in front of the theater, to counter-act those claims. There were carabinieri [teh Italian police] in front of the theater because they were equating me to the bandit Salvatore Giuliano [the most famous bandit in Italy]. And why do you think everybody was against me? Because I was a whipping boy. Who is the real target, you ask? It’s not me, but really General Manager of La Scala Stéphane Lissner”.
The interviewer then asks Alagna, “So, is it over for you and Milan?" Alagna replies, “I don’t exclude anybody. La Scala is mine. It does not belong to ‘Those People' [addressing La Scala management]. It’s like telling a Christian he can’t go to church anymore. God made me a tenor.”
- Alagna regarding the Rome cancellation of La Traviata: “I had to go to Paris for Simon Boccanegra, so I saw the staging of La Travitata. But I didn’t like it, so I cancelled. It was a sort of concerto version. So then I made myself available to Rome for just two nights. And it wasn’t good enough for them. They have the bad habit of announcing the cast even if they don’t have a signed contract with the artists yet. I told them: ‘Guys, I’ll come if I can, with pleasure’. Artistic Director Mauro Trombetta, a delightful person, told me that in Rome, I’d be the new Beniamino Gigli. But I don’t have room in my schedule for now. I have to study four new operas, one of them written by my brothers Davide and Federico. They do everything: they’re sculptors, painters, composers”.
- Alanga, after asked when he’d actually be back in Italy, replied, “I’ll be back to Italy in 2008, in Bologna, for Gluck’s Orfeo. And in Italy they offered me the artistic directorship of a theatre, too. I’m relaxed, trust me”.