In today's Corriere della sera, Giuseppe Filianoti goes nuclear, slamming Scala management who announced to him that he wouldn't sing the first two performances of Don Carlo, both tonight and on the 10th. And he accuses conductor Daniele Gatti of having betrayed him. He also insists that since he hasn't been fired, he'll show up tonight at the opera house to sing as scheduled (creepy echoes of the Alagna fiasco from 2006): "It will be my farewell to la Scala". All translations copyright Opera Chic Blog. Don't be sneaking...we see you...
"I have been betrayed by la Scala, stabbed in the back at the last minute. Last night they told me I wouldn't sing the premiere. They want to tell the world I'm sick, but I'm not. I'm perfectly fine, ready to tackle a role I feel confident about."
"What happened? I'd like to know, too. We have been rehearsing for two months. I've always sung in full voice and everybody has been very encouraging: Gatti, general manager Lissner, my colleagues. Everything seemed to be OK. Then, after the general rehearsal of the other night, open to students, Gatti began to have doubts. Why was I underpowered, why did I lack focus, why did I screw up a couple passaggi... Gatti decided only days ago to reintroduce the Lacrymosa at the end of Act III (ed: Verdi wrote 58 measures that he later pulled out of the final score to use in a later work-- they're now world famous as the Lacrymosa of the Requiem, almost no conductor reinstates it in Don Carlo) and that's where I admit I made a mistake. It's not enough to consider me unfit. It was also a general rehearsal, I wasn't committed 100% vocally. I wanted to save my energy for la prima".
"I sung this role in Zurich this past September, Gatti and Targetti (ed: the scala voice coach) heard me there and were very encouraging, 'You are the best, we'll do a wonderful work together,' they said. I was happy. I canceled commitments for Thais in Turin and a Lucrezia Borgia with Domingo in Washington, Pelleas in Rome... But you never refuse la Scala. I sung the Prima in 2003, Moise et Pharaon with Muti... different times... I miss Muti, la Scala back then would never have treated an artist like this, Muti protects his singers, always."
"I didn't expect such treatment from Gatti. Yesterdays they called me for a meeting, they said they didn't want to embarrass me in front of the whole world. They said they'll declare me to be 'sick' and to have more credibility, they'll pull me from la prima and the second night. I'll be able to sing the rest of the run, they said. For my own good, they said. They're not firing me, they just reshuffling my dates around."
"I can defend myself. I'm not a rookie. My nerves are fine. My voice, too. Gatti projected his fears on to me. I'm not afraid. I'm from Calabria, I'm tough, I'm 34, I have contracts all over the world... the Met... Barenboim for Verdi... The audience booing is part of the game in opera, the greatest singers ever have been booed, Callas, Pavarotti. It's not just me: tonight even Matti Salminen (ed: as announced yesterday by Opera Chic) will not be there... He's a great bass, 'sick' as well! An outbreak. The reality is this administration at Scala only cares about business."
"People at la Scala know me since I was a kid. I sang here many times, Falstaff, Armide, Nina pazza per amore... I know everybody. Everybody is stunned. It's impossible, they said. The director hugged me, he said he couldn't understand, he was desperate. He's a very sensitive man. He's in trouble. Stuart Neill, who will replace me, doesn't have Don Carlo's physique. Lots of singers have fought with la Scala... Marcelo Alvarez, Alagna, now me. The world's best tenors stay away from here, there must be a reson. I'll never be back here as long as they'll keep acting this way. But tonight I'll come to the theater, I have not been fired. They won't allow me to go on stage, obviously. It will be my farewell".
Opera Chic's take? She understands Filianoti's terrible dilemma -- regardless of his vocal health, he couldn't take this demotion quietly. Just couldn't. He's right to try to spin things this way. His future is at stake.
As OC wrote last night, they shouldn't have hired him. Fighting with Marcelo Alvarez has been a very dumb move. They needed someone like Marcellone. But once you hire Filianoti, warts and all, with his known history of past vocal trouble and his known history of trying to tackle heavier roles -- he's a tenore lirico -- with mixed results, well, you can't hire Filianoti because he has name recognition and then dump him 24 hours before the premiere. It just isn't done. It's not respectful. And singers everywhere now know this could happen to them, too, under this management.
If they really figured out 24 hours before the premiere that Filianoti was in trouble, after everybody's doubts in the past year, and after weeks of reports of Filianoti's trouble during reherasals, well, what does that tell you about the organization there?