In a badly fact-checked Associated Press dispatch (Pavarotti sang Don Carlo here in 1992, not 1982; Alagna sang Aida two years ago, not last year) la Scala, through their communications director Carlo Maria Cella finally addresses the enormous news of their decision to replace 24 hours before opening night tenor Giuseppe Filianoti with second-cast Stuart Neill (read below for all the breaking news since last night):
Which is a very low key way to address this huge can of worms -- no one can rememeber a lead being replaced with another singer 24 hours before opening night of the season, the traditional Dec. 7th gala.
There is also another problem: la Scala has had no music director since Riccardo Muti was ousted in early 2005; new General Manager Stéphane Lissner has used a roster of guest conductors these last three years -- with Daniel Barenboim flauntin' the vastly ceremonial title of maestro scaligero his idol Wilhelm Furtwaengler once held even if it's the GM Stephane Lissner who's calling all the shots, just try asking Barenboim if he really really really wants to take credit, or blame, for the Scala's general musical achievements, or lack thereof, these last three years -- but no conductor is in charge of affairs as Music Director, period.
Daniele Gatti has a good chance of becoming, in the next three years, the next Music Director (a title held in the past by -- in chronological order, going backwards -- Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Guido Cantelli, Carlo Maria Giulini, Victor de Sabata, Arturo Toscanini, Tullio Serafin).
Gatti's best advised to lay low in this mess, despite Filianoti's accusations of having been stabbed in the back by Gatti whom Filianoti in the newspaper La Stampa called "childish".Lay low and pray Neill doesn't suck, and the loggione has mercy on him.
Especially if, as the gossip in Milan rages today, the decision to pull the trigger on this last-minute replacement hasn't exactly been unanimous in this productions' quarters, Gatti is best advised on sticking to musical matters in the press declining to comment about casting decisions. No sane conductor would want to jeopardize a very good shot at the Musical Directorship here by straying away from the message. Which is "Neill was in better shape", period. Without commenting on how could they possibly have realized only 24 hours from la prima that Filianoti's voice wasn't up to speed.
Coming soon: the hilarious stories of their frantic search for a third tenor in case of a -- almost certain -- eventual pullout by Filianoti who despite having not, repeat, not been fired but simply had his schedule reshuffled, feels rightly dissed -- only hours before la prima.
But now, entertaining as the backstage drama is, Opera Chic has got to go la Scala for the actual show -- you try navigating the sidewalks here in Prada five-inches stilettos.
Updates only in case of bad emergency via Blackjack.