Tragedy as La Scala star, 49, dies homeless on streets of Milan

Tragedy as La Scala star, 49, dies homeless on streets of Milan


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2020

Il Giorno reports the sad death, aged 49, of the Azeri bass Eldar Aliev, an artist who commanded leading roles around the turn of the century at La Scala, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Florence.

For the past 15 years, for reasons unknown, he chose to live homeless in Milan, sleeping on park benches or in a trailer.

Before his withdrawal he featured on Decca recordings with Juan Diego Florez and Riccardo Chailly.

May he rest in peace.

UPDATE: The missing years of Eldar Aliev


  • Cluntou Boushmaznyeman says:

    The only time I heard him sing live, I could feel the depth of his soul communicating with me. It was an otherworldly experience.

    A tragic end for an immense talent.

  • Fellow Bass.... says:

    Basses are overlooked in both opera and society but we do feel those wounds a great deal though we may rarely show it as we charge through life.

    Welcome home after your long, painful journey Eldar.

  • V. Lind says:

    It Is a tragedy. But I would like to know a little more about this story. I have rarely if ever seen the term “chose to live homeless” before.

    • Bill says:

      Mental illness by definition isn’t rational.

    • Nik says:

      I know nothing about this particular tragic case, but I would like to address the general point you have made. It is indeed not unusual that there is an element of choice involved. If you speak to any social worker who has spent time with the homeless you will find this confirmed.
      Often the reason why someone ends up homeless is because he was unable to cope with the strictures of living an orderly life, be it due to mental illness, addiction or a combination of the two. In trying to offer help and alternatives to a homeless person the same issues interfere again. It might be possible for them to join some kind of housing and job training scheme, but this cannot be done without submitting to a set of rules and taking responsibility for getting one’s life back on track. Some can successfully do this, others prefer to live out whatever days they have left in the street without anyone telling them what to do. So yes, there is an element of choice involved.
      It is absolutely right that the homeless should be offered whatever help they need, but it’s somewhat naive to think that the problem will just disappear if everyone is a bit kinder/donates more money/votes for a leftwing party.

  • Nick2 says:

    How dreadful! That a man with such talent should elect to live on the streets. Is there no organization in Italy that could have helped him? May he now find peace.

  • Malcolm James says:

    Tragically, this shows that no-one is immune from the ravages of mental illness. I’m sure that plenty of people tried to help him, but he turned them all away and, sadly, 10-15 years living on the street is probably about par for the course.

  • Nick says:

    OMG! Modern day tragedy. R.I.P!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Didn’t something llike this happen to Jerry Hadley in New York, afyer he was living on the streets in his car and appealed for funds on the internet?

    • Paul says:


      He wasn’t living on the streets but was pulled over by police and charged with a DUI in NYC. He certainly had deep problems by the time he died. His obit mentions he tried to shoot himself in the head with an air gun and subsequently died in the hospital from the self inflicted brain injury. He also suffered from severe depression, particularly after his career faltered. He died July 2007. His final Met performance was was a 2002 revival of Harbison’s “Great Gatsby” in the title role.

    • Action outweighs all says:

      Jerry ultimately shot himself in the head after he was neglected long enough. Still happens all the time in all walks of life. He went off by himself and took care of business.

      He is still greatly missed and respected but went out on his own terms.

      Besides, real men always control their own lives in the end and don’t care about everyone else’s “opinions”. Betas and women can’t ever grasp this reality so they merely argue and get offended. It’s quite burdensome.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Many rhanks, Paul and Action, for this informationabout Jerry Hadley. I may have confused some details with Chris Merritt, who I think may have had similar problems.

    I never saw Hadley, but not long before Chris Merritt’s troubles I was at Boulez’s CSO concert of Schoenberg’s “Moses and Aron (sic)” with Merritt and Pittman-Jennings. It was Boulez’s birthday, and my wife and I talked a long time afterward, she with Boulez and I with Pittman-Jennings, almost as impressive a Moses as Hans Hotter especially at the end, is from Oklahoma like my father, and a fellow Southwesterner with common associations.

    I liked Merritt’s Aron and Golden Cal better than his other repertoire, in which Florez, Brownlee, and another Peruvian tenor excelled. Schoenberg’s aversion to the number13 caused him to drop the second “A” from Aron’s name.