Luca Ronconi, that most intellectual of directors (of plays and operas -- musical theater is in fact his greatest passion), gets routinely attacked for his merciless adherence to his cryptic concepts; Pier Luigi Pizzi gets the same treatment a lot, because of his gleefully random ideas (OC finds them more often than not to be delicious).
Opera Chic appreciates their work and actually thinks that an excellent example of why these two gentlemen are much, much cooler than their detractors say, is the finale from L'Europa Riconosciuta, the Salieri opera that opened la Scala for the very first night of the glorious Milanese theater in 1778, and was resurrected in 2004 at la Scala by Riccardo Muti after the three years of renovations.
The idea that the Pizzi/Ronconi team had for this is, in its simplicity, quite stunning: the show reopens la Scala after its renovation? Then a couple rows of red velvet seats ripped out of the old theater during renovation suddendly appear on stage from above; the chorus, dressed in black tie and high fashion dresses, then sits down, just like the audience, and the final aria -- "A Regnar Su Questa Sede", a beautiful, enlightened hymn to forgiveness that "makes us similar to the Gods" -- is delivered by the singers and chorus as huge mirrors reflect the theater itself -- and its audience -- onto the stage.
We're all in this together, Ronconi and Pizzi tell their audience. That's what we do here, you know -- together, you guys, us.
It's a clean, straightforward concept -- like Kenneth Branagh delivering his "To be or not to be" soliloquy in front of a mirror -- but it never fails to move us.
(And no, there is no commercially available DVD of this historic production -- conducted by Muti, sung by Diana Damrau, Desiréè Rancatore and Daniela Barcellona. Maybe because it would make a lot of the overpriced DVDs that get blindly printed and sold by a dying recording industry look desperately bad).