Next week’s La Scala revival of Deborah Warner’s 2014 Fidelio will be dedicated to the memories of Vittore Veneziani and Erich Kleiber. It will mark the 80th anniversary of the 1938 Leggi Razziali, the Mussolini racial laws that excluded Jews from public life.
Veneziani was La Scala’s chorus master. He was not allowed back into the building until Toscanini returned in 1946.
Kleiber, who was due to conduct Fidelio in March 1939 cancelled his engagement in solidarity. His telegram read: I just learned that the doors of La Scala will be closed to your Jewish fellow citizens. Music is made for everyone, like the sun and air. When this fountain of consolation, so necessary in these hard times, is denied to any human being – and merely because he belongs to a different religion and race – I cannot collaborate either as a Christian and as an artist.