Why Chailly was called ‘asshole’ by La Scala director on live TV

Why Chailly was called ‘asshole’ by La Scala director on live TV


norman lebrecht

December 10, 2015

At the opening night of La Scala, during curtain calls for a successful Giovanna d’Arco, passions erupted backstage and were heard all over Italy on Rai radio and worldwide on live streaming.

The director Moshe Leiser was clearly heard shouting ‘asshole’ at someone, evidently at Riccardo Chailly, the music director, with whom he had a difficult relationship. He followed up with an Italian epithet that sounds like ‘piece of shit’.

The outburst was shown live on Rai Radio3 and on La Scala streaming, both waiting backstage for comments from the artists after the triumphant conclusion of Verdi’s long-neglected opera.

The backdrop, we understand is that Chailly insisted on changes in Leiser’s staging, especially an orgy of devils during the love duet which does not appear in Verdi’s score. Leiser took offence and could not contain his emotions after the show.

You can watch the outburst here.

These things happen. In the past, they would not have passed unnoticed. But with live streaming and global access on social media they can get inflated. La Scala is, we hear, considering how to handle backstage access in future.


asshole moment


  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Bravo, Maestro Chailly! Let Mr. Leiser have his orgy elsewhere.

  • John Edward Niles says:

    First of all, Moshe Leiser is one of those stage directors who tries to be “outside the box” as ‘twer with his staging often at the expense of the piece he is staging. I have seen other stagings of this man and while I have been intrigued and even impressed by some of his ideas, in general his Regie-Theatr is for me off putting, distracting and quite often without artistic merit. Chailly is a man of great talent. While he is not my most favorite conductor, he does take his position as the guardian of the music very seriously. I know the work of BOTH of these men. Artistically I trust Chailly and I do NOT trust Leiser artistically. While I was not there, I am willing to give Maestro Chailly the benefit of the doubt here since Moshe Leiser’s track record is not good when it comes to his staging.

  • Gloria says:

    Bravo Maestro Chailly! Enough of this Regie garbage! Is it supposed to attract younger audiences

  • Peter Freeman says:

    Anche bravo JEN, Gloria!

  • Holger H. says:

    The core of the matter is, that most of these “Regietheater” directors do opera not because they love the art form or are musically particularly qualified, but they are there, because the pay is very much better than in non-musical theater.
    Their ignorance to the composer’s intention and sometimes outright violence to the creator’s work and manifested will could bee seen as a subconscious act of revenge at the art form, that denies them the necessary initiation, since they are not musically qualified.

    The next question is: who hires these “rapists”?

  • Respect says:

    Ironically, backstage at the Italian theaters I worked at, asshole ( or more likely, it’s Italian equivalent) is the word thrown around. Very passionate people, who the next day are your best friend the next day.

    Leister and Caurier are hardly radicals, perhaps Niles still prefers his stagings where everyone lines up and sings on the lip of the stage. His tastes are decidedly derrière-garde.

    • Fred Plotkin says:

      To my knowledge, the offending word was uttered in English.

      • Robin Worth says:

        You heard it right, but after it came a much ruder word in Italian, which I won’t translate

        The oddity is that the Italian word was pronounced in a clear Italian accent, which was not the opposite of Leiser’s poorly articulated vulgarity

        So who said what to whom?

  • Ira Spaulding says:


  • Fred says:

    baloney, Chaily dealth with many “regie” trash in the past, certainly in amsterdam. So don’t call him the guardian of whatever