Appalling: Academy fires student after she makes La Scala debut

Appalling: Academy fires student after she makes La Scala debut


norman lebrecht

August 07, 2015

The Norwegian mezzo-soprano Lilly Jørstad, who has been singing Rosina at La Scala this week, has been told by the La Scala Academy that she is ‘unsuitable’ to complete her studies next year.

The Academy letter, obtained and translated by Gramilano, reads:

Dear Sig.ra Jørstad,

we regret to inform you that, in the light of considerations that emerged during the deliberations of the Teaching Faculty over the last year, the Direction of the dell’Accademia di perfezionamento per Cantanti Lirici del Teatro alla Scala considers you unsuitable to complete the two-year course you started last October.


Luisa Vinci

Given that Lilly was extremely well received, singing opposite veterans Leo Nucci and Ruggero Raimondi, this sounds like a bunch of teachers who are out of touch with professional realities. Someone needs to have a word.

lilly jorstad


  • T. Manor says:

    …in the light of considerations that emerged during the deliberations of the Teaching Faculty over the last year…

    It doesn’t even state what was “considered.”

    Snarere nedverdigende.

  • Respect says:

    Forgive me, but without proper facts, one cannot assume it’s a comment on the singing. I’ve witnessed young artists dismissed for gossiping about the company ( later became a start singer), weight gain, affairs with guest artists that were later used to attempt to blackmail the company, etc. I’m not implying that any of the above took place, but clearly someone was pissed off. Obviously, it’s an extremely political field where the best don’t always rise to the top.

    • A says:

      I don’t think anyone was pissed off, she simply did not follow the requirements

    • lopera says:

      She wasn’t fired from the theater but from their school. And I find very unrealistic that this woman would have to go through great lengths to get men interest in her for the purpose of gossiping.

  • MarieTherese says:

    RESPECT is correct in that we don’t have all the facts. Sometimes a student is very difficult to work with or a parent puts unreasonable demands upon the schools/teaching staff. Perhaps they don’t work well with others or aren’t prepared consistently…Again, not implying that this is the case here, but we just aren’t privy to the whole story so labeling the matter, “Appalling” is overly dramatic.

  • Una says:

    This day and age, some of the so-called students are so good and polished that they show up some of the mediocre ones who have been singing for years, and then there’s jealousy. If you’re too good, then they get rid of you as well. She may well have shown up the poor standard of singing teaching, who knows. And Italy is no longer the centre of the universe when it comes to opera or singing teachers – certainly not for any singer outside of Italy. But as you say, who knows why she’s had to go – perhaps she was wearing the wrong coloured shoes!

  • Max Grimm says:

    Before chiding La Scala’s Academy, Norman, one will need to find out more about the exact circumstances. If La Scala’s academy program is comparable to most other one or two year orchestral & vocal training schemes in Europe, the fault for the lost academy position might be found with Mrs. Jørstad.
    Most of these academy programs feature the caveat of training ending or positions being repealed, if students find and accept “professional” positions.

    • lopera says:

      Why is “professional” between quotes? Do you doubt the professionalism of staring in the first cast with Nucci at La Scala to be a professional position?

      • Max Grim says:

        It is between quotes because that is the actual qualifier used in the rules of several academies, which also spares them from specifying the exact nature of positions (be they full time positions, short- or long-term substitute services, fixed term contracts, trial phases, a role in an opera production, etc.), the acceptance of which may result in a cancellation of a student’s academy slot.

  • A says:

    I am from l’accademia alla Scala right now and is involved with the performances of barbiere di siviglia. Lilly does have a great voice, stage presence, and is obviously very talented, however, so are all the singers at the academy right now; the accademia only accepts singers of the best quality. I assume she wants to stay for the second year of training, so she should have taken the necessary exams to secure her place, no matter what was garanteed to her (again we should know the details before taking sides, since the academy is a very good institution for singers). If she can still continue her second year without these exams, it won’t be fair to those who did them.
    I hope she can get out of this tough situation though, best of luck to her!

  • Graham Spicer (gramilano) says:

    I don’t usually comment, but I just wanted to let you know that the Press Office has told me that the teaching faculty was unanimous in the fact that she should leave the Academy and, apparently, for vocal reasons.Obviously, lots of things don’t add up and more facts will come to light but, I can assure you, Jørstad sang Rosina wonderfully!

    I’ve written an update here:

  • John says:

    One thing’s for sure. She’s good enough for La Scala. Quit that school, kid, and start your career!