How Riccardo Chailly put the Italian back in La Scala

How Riccardo Chailly put the Italian back in La Scala


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2018

From my piece in The Spectator today:

As the curtain opens on the second act of Don Pasquale, I hear a rustle of discomfort. Donizetti’s opera has not been seen at La Scala since 1994. Its restoration, on the orders of a new music director, sets off a critical flutter and Davide Livermore’s new production, set in the Cinecittà film studio during the 1950s dolce vita, seems designed to tweak the Roman nose of national vanity.

Italy is supposed to be a serious country these days, burying buffoonery and hedonism among the Coliseum ruins. Even Silvio Berlusconi is seen as an archaeological relic, not to be disturbed. So Riccardo Chailly’s embrace of opera buffa in his first full season as music director provokes the kind of disquiet that we might feel if Covent Garden reinstated Gilbert and Sullivan….

Read on here.



  • Nicola says:

    Just one thing: last Norma at la Scala was in 1977 (with Caballé), not in Callas times!

  • Laura says:

    I do not agree that Don Pasquale is like Gilbert and Sullivan. Opera is opera.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Not the best opera buffa but still opera. As for Berlusconi, a mere youngster.

      • Jackyt says:

        Irina Brook directed a wonderful Commedia del arte production of Don Pasquale in Vienna a couple of years ago. It was a joy from start to end.

    • Stuart says:

      The linking of Pasquale with Gilbert and Sullivan show little understanding of Donizetti and even less of Sullivan. And I’d wager that Covent Garden could do a cracking Yeomen.

  • Rgiarola says:

    Not all Italy refuses Fellini’s perspectives, but probably all milleniuns with their politically correctness.

    Future perhaps will decide who was the lost generation, in fact.

    I think Lebrecht prefers Antonioni. A big “blow up” in the headlines

  • David Darwin says:

    What lone trumpet in La Dolce Vita???? And I guess the Ring Cycle over four seasons could be considered a “bit” of conducting.