Earlier tonight at La Scala, steely guardians of Busseto homeboy Giuseppe Verdi's legacy came prepared. With leaflets.At the premiere of Damiano Michieletto's new staging of Un ballo in maschera, loggionisti traditionalists, in protest of the young Italian opera director's modern spin and election-themed update of Verdi's melodrama, boos were hurled, shouts of "sacrilege" boomed from the upper decks and leaflets were tossed following applause at the conclusion of Act I. (For the record, we've been in the house twice when leaflets were tossed from the loggione -- no biggie.)
Written complaints, all in Italian, registered as "Giuseppe Verdi, please forgive them because they don't know what they're doing" and "This is a sacrilege". A longer screed was composed of five different laments, written in cursive hand as a bullet list with meeting minutes:
- "A director or a stage designer shouldn't offend tradition and good taste."
- "Those who offend and go beyond the limits of respecting art deserve only contempt."
- "Those who don't respect the art aren't worthy of calling themselves artists."
- "The serious and prepared public is nauseated by the artistic slaughter that is being staged for these immortal masterpieces"
- "It's impossible to be offended by a traditional staging and a traditional production of the immortal works of Giuseppe Verdi."
Although keen to update cobwebby stagings, Damiano Michieletto's not (yet been labeled) a provocateur. His La Bohème for last year's Salzburg was set in an American shopping mall and a Trittico from last year was set in an industrial warehouse. In tonight's premiere, Milanese maestro Daniele Rustione led Marcelo Álvarez as Riccardo, Zeljko Lucic as Renato, Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia, Ulrica was Marianne Cornetti and Patrizia Ciofi as Oscar.