La Scala Opera Taps an Italian to Be Its Next Leader

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Meyer, who before running La Scala and the Vienna State Opera was the artistic director of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and the general director of the Lausanne Opera in Switzerland, will turn 70 next year. But Sala said at a news conference Tuesday that according to legal experts consulted by the board, the age cap did not apply to La Scala, which is governed by a different statute than other opera theaters.

The law capping the age limit at 70 initially caused a ruckus at the San Carlo theater in Naples, which moved to dismiss Lissner, also French, who had turned 70 midway through his term as the general director. A labor court reinstated Lissner after his lawyers challenged the grounds for his dismissal.

After taking office in September, Ortombina will consult with the board and the theater’s orchestra to select a music director. Sala said the current director, Riccardo Chailly, would remain until 2026, conducting La Scala’s Dec. 7 season premieres — an annual cultural highlight in Italy — in 2024 and 2025. The board expressed a preference for Daniele Gatti, currently the musical director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, to succeed him.

Ortombina will take over La Scala in September.

Sala said that Meyer, whose term officially ends on Feb. 28, 2025, had been asked to stay on until Aug. 1 of that year. Meyer has not said whether he would accept the extension.

Ortombina, 63, is no stranger to La Scala. He served as coordinator of the theater’s artistic direction from 2003 to 2007, then left to become the artistic director at La Fenice. He became La Fenice’s general director in 2017.

With his background in musical studies, as an artistic director and then general director, Ortombina was “a step in the right direction,” said Mattioli, the critic.

Sala on Tuesday acknowledged the tense negotiations that had led to the appointment, saying that the board had “done everything for the good of La Scala, for its dignity and in fairness.”

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