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La Scala facing bumpy management transition

May 14, 2014

MILAN (AP) — Milan’s La Scala opera house is facing a bumpy management transition as the board decides whether to confirm incoming general manager Alexander Pereira’s appointment over a potential conflict of interest.

Pereira, director of the Salzburg Festival, was named to succeed Stephane Lissner, who departs Sept. 1 for the Paris Opera after nine seasons at La Scala. With the transition already under way, opposition to the confirmation emerged over Pereira’s deals to bring operas from the Salzburg Festival, where he is still director, without proper approval.

Lissner told reporters Wednesday, the eve of the board’s expected decision, that the controversy can be attributed to the fact that “this is the first time La Scala has done a transition” where a new general manager overlaps with the old. Lissner said when he arrived nine years ago his predecessor exited the office as he arrived, with virtually no handover.

La Scala’s unions have been pressing for clarification of Pereira’s role. “We don’t want a general manager who is hobbled,” said Giancarlo Albori of the CGIL confederation that represents a majority of La Scala’s 800 workers. “It is necessary to end this controversy.”

At issue is that Pereira has sought to finalize deals before his position had been confirmed, raising the ire of some on the board. La Scala is a public theater, and Milan’s mayor, Guiliano Pisapia, heads the board. It receives financing from the city, province and region, as well as from the Italian government.

Pereira has been quoted as saying he has acted according to normal practice in European theaters in authorizing deals while preparing for his official takeover upon Lissner’s departure.

La Scala is facing both a management and artistic transition. Along with Pereira, the opera house is welcoming a new musical director, Riccardo Chailly, who replaces Daniel Barenboim.

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