Latest: The Muti shitstorm continues

Latest: The Muti shitstorm continues

Comment Of The Day

norman lebrecht

May 13, 2021

Comment of the Day: Various readers have added pertinent details to the La Scala bust-up between the two Riccardos, Muti and Chailly.

From Ulrich Baras:

Muti was upset because the initial plans for the alla Scala reopening were with his concert conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker. Then some voices criticised doing the reopening with a external orchestra when the house hosts one the the best orchestras in the world. After some reconsideration the management decided to open one day earlier with house orchestra playing with another soprano (Lise Davidsen) the same programme they have been recording with Anna Netrebko the previous week.

From Edorado:

The Corriere della Sera, one of the major Italian newspapers, reports the news:

At the end of the concert Muti founds a TV crew outside his dresssing room: it the the TV crew that had filmed the concert but Muti believes it is a group of journalsit waiting for comments. A row follows with the Scala Communication Director. At this point it seems that Chailly appears, wearing a face mask, but he is not recognized by Muti, who, even more irritated, shouts “Everybody out!”

Other sites reports that Chailly has tapped Muti on shoulder and Muti asked: “Who are you?” to which Chailly replied “I am the other Riccardo, coming to congratulate”. But this may be pure gossip…

From Concertgebouw79:

We know that Muti had some hard times at La Scala more than 15 years ago. Maybe it was fair maybe it was unfair I always thought that it was the second answer. But he made the big error to stay there a too long time here. But Chailly is not responsable of what happenned in the mid 2000’s when he was at Amsterdam and Leipzig. The way Muti acted if it’s real is not elegant and deeply stupid. And the way Muti seems to act like there’s only one Riccardo in Italy is very very disappointing. hard not to see jealousy because Chailly he’s giving to la Scala a real golden age today.

From FullStory:

People don’t know the whole story, just the public side to it. Chailly and La Scala (and the journalists close to them) have been complaining for weeks about the fact that a foreign orchestra (Viena Philharmonic) and an invited conductor (Muti) were going to be performing at the 75th anniversary of the reopening of La Scala, instead of the in-house artists. Muti, fed up with all the crap, reacted that way.




  • E says:

    I do not know Chailly at all, and yes I could imagine Muti having a fit- I mean he is Italian after all – but I have worked with Muti and he is the funniest conductor ever. i have never laughed so much in rehearsals and we’d share smokes at break and he’s actually ask ME questions. With his monogrammed shirts and hair and slim cigarettes he is so retro he is cool again. Love the guy. Really, he is a legend in our times.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      I think that the fact to come back at La Scala makes Muti nevous. But its not a good way to act. Haitink left Amsterdam not in a pleasant way in the 80s but after few years he cames back at the Concertgebouw for exemple.

      • Gustavo says:

        But Haitink’s final performance in Amsterdam was in but not with the Concertgebouw.

      • Steve Easterbrook says:

        [Ominous creepy music and sound of chains in the background]

        Jeff Alexander, remember me!!!

        [Ominous music continues, creepier than before]

        “Cuncta stricte discussurus!”

        [Ominous music fading]

        Remember me!

        [Eerie Silence]

      • Monsoon says:

        This seems to be a pattern for Muti.

        Since he left Philadelphia in 1992, I’m pretty sure that he’s only conducted one or two subscription concerts, with several last minute cancellations (there was at least one, single benefit concert he did around 2005 — I think that was the last).

      • Ahmed says:

        It doesn’t matter how one acts or presents themselves any longer!!!

        The Lawrence Brownlee (CAPITALIST ad) running on this site invokes racial justice initiatives from Worcester “Black History Project” with an offensive, aggressive, RACIST ‘black power’ fist with the event being ‘blacks ONLY’ illustrates Black Supremacy.

        Thus it’s APPROPRIATE to be racist when it suits you today yet ok to use CAPITALISM to make money from your perceived oppression using Anglo Saxon and Jewish financial laws and products.

    • White Lady says:

      Let me guess, your times were those of JFK, when it was fashionable to have mistresses going in and out of the White House?

      He is definitely making that retro cool again in Chicago.

      • E says:

        actually i am 45. and worked with him last when i was 37. He treated me like a prince and I will never say a bad word about him. end of.

      • KMC says:

        How do you know that the allegation in your comment is actually true? What is the basis for your knowledge? If you have verifiable facts, is the CSOA aware of the situation?

    • White Lady says:

      Let me guess, your times were the times of JFK, when it was fashionable to have mistresses go in and out of the Oval Office?

      He is definitely making that retro cool again in Chicago.

      • Tamino says:

        That puritan hypocrisy of the Americans when it comes to sex is always weird to witness for most Europeans.
        Apparently for Americans it is all fine and dandy if you as a President are commander in chief over killing hundreds of thousands (mostly brown and yellow people), devastating whole subcontinents for decades, in senseless wars that are just rackets for the plutocracy. But when you get a little blowjob on the side, they are getting most upset and outraged.
        Weird set of values they have.

        • US Veteran Chicago says:

          That inexplicable amnesia of the Central Europeans when it comes to genocide is always weird to witness for most Americans.

          Apparently it is all fine and dandy to kill millions of people from a particular race that just does not sit well with you.

          Last time I checked it was us who died on your beaches to end that horror, in a fairly recent past.

          Why don’t you get your Maestro to get his on the side blowjob at the Musikverein instead.

          Weird set of values.

          • Alexcohen says:

            I share your opinion on sexual hypocrisy.

            Dear Veteran, we americans should be very careful when saying things like that when we, less than 80 years ago, killed between 126,000 and 225,000 civilians in Japan with just two bombs. America cannot teach any lessons to anybody. Neither can Germany and Austria.

          • Tamino says:

            Lame rebuttal, Chicago veteran. Nothing is forgotten in Central Europe about the horrific ‚fairly recent past‘. But ironically you ended that ‚fairly recent’ history chapter with killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, just to impress Soviet tough guy Stalin with your newest war toys.
            What happened since then, in the ‚fairly most recent past‘ until today, is your plutocracy starting one pointless criminal war and CIA instigated ‚regime change’ after the other, all for your moneyed 1% elite. Bravo!

          • KMC says:

            You can be sure that he is getting them in Vienna too. Women, especially those who are worthy of his respect, mean as much to him as a used Keenex once he is done with them, no matter what city he happens to be in, no matter whether the press knows about it or not. O if I could have warned so many to retain their dignity and to not succumb to his brilliance.

        • FrauGeigerin says:

          Well said, Tamino.

        • Gee Tamino, Mussolini did not mind massacreing thundreds of housands of Ethiopians or Hitler millions of Jews.

        • Gee Tamino, your bemusement is odd when you consider Mussolini and Italy having no problems murdering hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians or Hitler and Germans doing the same to millions of Jews.

          • Tamino says:

            I’m talking about now and the recent decades.
            Or do you want to get me going about the genocide of the Native Americans, on which the current American Republic is founded? How far do you want to go back in history, to justify own wrongdoings with wrongdoings of others?
            No matter how many people Hitler or Mussolini massacred. It doesn’t justify a single atrocity and war crime of the more recent past.

      • KMC says:

        How do you know that the allegation in your comment is actually true? What is the basis for your knowledge? If you have verifiable facts, is the CSOA aware of the situation?

    • Maurizio Cicognani says:

      “I mean he is Italian after all ”

      Your deeply stereotypical and racist statement demonstrates why you and Muti get along.

      • E says:

        racist? you have got to be kidding me. Italian artists are famous for their passion and frankly it is not racist one bit. i admire it, frankly.

    • William Evans says:

      Muti has monogrammed cigarettes and (even more alarming) Hair?! An omitted comma makes all the difference (ha, ha).

    • urania says:

      Truely these are the most important tools for a conductor…. ;-)…make them laugh!

    • A bunch of big babies!!!!

  • Sarastro says:

    This whole story, in light of the Covid pandemic and the fallout for the world of performing arts makes it even more disgusting and ridiculous.
    Ricardo Muti may be, or maybe was, a gifted conductor, but he is an arrogant, selfish and egocentric human being. I worked with him 23 years ago and he was no different, shouting at the cast, insulting engineers and behaving like he was the centre of the universe. He isn’t and he never was, only requiring such abusive behaviour towards others to massage his fragile ego. That was a different time, where such repugnant behaviour was tolerated, even expected from a supposedly famous classical music personality. Games with ego, jealousy and shouting, “Everybody out!” only show that Mr. Muti has learned nothing with age and from this recent pandemic and still has appalling manners, throws egocentric tantrums and thinks that he is more important than another human being. Those days are over and few in the world of performing arts want to deal with such people ever again. I hear that from more and more people working within this field that they will never again tolerate the school of arrogance personified by the likes of a Riccardo Muti. True artists and great human beings NEVER behave like that towards others.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      Muti is like Bhoeme and Mazel… in his way to manage and he s out of time.

      • Gustavo says:

        Maazel was the incarnation of sour grapes because Berlin chose Abbado instead.

        • BRUCEB says:

          I do remember he cancelled a concert with them when the announcement came out. (Whatever you may think of their choice of Abbado, avoiding Maazel was a smart move.)

          • jobim75 says:

            Maazel is not my ultimate cup of tea, but has he made Rso turn bad, Cleveland So turned bad, Pittsburgh and NY turned bad??? Probably he wouldn’t have deconstruct the sound of the orchestra the same way Abbado has.

          • Mark says:

            Maazel was inconsistent no doubt, but when he was good, he could be very good. Some of his Cleveland recordings stand up well, others less so. But the CO was frequently proclaimed as the finest US orchestra, he added a different
            level of versatility, engaged in community outreach, and was often innovative with programming (before the last season). I heard him conduct Mahler 6th with Pittsburgh in Carnegie Hall, and the orchestra was in top form.

          • MD says:

            I would not refer to ending the practice of extensive sound alchemy performed by Karajan in the recording studio and vastly enlarging the repertoire as “deconstructing the sound of the orchestra”, but it’s matter of taste rather than semantics

          • Concertgebouw79 says:

            His worst beahavior was with Orchestre National de France…

        • Sue Sonata Form says:


      • E says:

        i mean i called him rickcy riccardo like in ‘i love lucy’ and he laughed and loved it.

    • E says:

      I am so sorry you had this experience. Mine with Muti has been golden. I guess all artists can be moody.. i sure know i am. maybe I simply caught him on the right days.

    • jobim75 says:

      He’s an old person, let him be….

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Why should we assume the shitstorm really happened?

  • alfred.dubarre says:

    Whatever happened – certainly accounts and recollections of it may vary (if I may paraphrase HM Queen Elizabeth II) – one thing is for sure, the use of such language in the headline does not be become a writer of integrity.

    • Lothario Hunter says:

      Yes! You would prefer Muti’s dick jokes, they are much funnier aren’t they?!

      • E says:

        He never made a dick joke in rehearsals. fine, i like a dick joke … but Muti in a work setting is simply class. his jokes and stories are something i will never forget.

  • Rob says:

    Muti recorded one of the best Mahler 1s of all time, far superior to Chailly’s.

    • Ainslie says:

      Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

    • Concertgoer says:

      Yes, that EMI Mahler 1 (Feb. 1984, Memorial Hall, Philly) is fabulous.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I don’t agree with that opinion at all (Mahler 1). They’re both good; both with outstanding orchestras, and quite different in their timings.

    • Tamino says:

      That’s impressive, that Muti can do a Mahler recording all by himself. Playing all the instruments, doing the microphone balancing and engineering, wow, what a man.

    • Mark says:

      IIRC, Muti’s only Mahler recording. I don’t remember if he conducted the 4th in Chicago too, but I think he has only conducted the 1st with the CSO.

      I see Chailly as a front runner to replace Muti in Chicago. The CSO management will want an elite, high profile conductor. That’s a select group. There’s very little history with him and the CSO, but the same was true with Muti before his was courted.

  • sam says:

    You’re an 80 year old man.

    You’re in a small enclosed space, a dressing room, perhaps windowless.

    Throngs of people, some recognizable, most strangers, are crowing inside and outside your room, close enough to make contact with you.

    It is post concert, everyone is hot, sweating, talking out loud, half of whom are maskless.

    You are in the middle of Covid in one of the worst hit countries and one of the worst hit cities in Europe.

    What do you do?

    I would yell “Fuori dai coglioni!” and “Get the fuck out” in as many languages as I know.


  • Mock Maher says:

    Temperamental behavior in the classical music world–I am shocked, shocked!

  • Midwestern Violin says:

    Several of us are disgusted by Muti’s machismo and by his scarcely hidden private conduct, which management has decided to turn a blind eye to.

    I personally have not witnessed racist statements against Asians, but many against other nationalities, which obviously should not be excused.

    The CSO has a lot of work to do to take its HR policies to the XXI century.

    • jobim75 says:

      Yes because 2021 and following years will probably be considered in the future as golden age of humanity

    • Rob Keeley says:

      ‘Scarcely hidden private conduct’? Do enlighten me!

    • CSOA Insider says:

      Several policies should be put in place. Some can shield the organization from sexual harassment and favoritism allegations and could avoid massive reputational damage as well as potential multi-million dollar lawsuits if the “romantic relationships” go sour.

      Robust policies make good business sense but Alexander does not deem them necessary.

  • Emil says:

    So, in short, Muti was MD of La Scala, is no longer the MD of La Scala, and is offended that he is not treated as the MD of La Scala when the actual MD of La Scala gets to reopen the House?

    • Gustavo says:

      Bringing VPO to la Scala says it all.

      • Pimen says:

        It should be remembered that RMM led the Wiener at La Scala in 2005 days *after* quitting and exited *stage left* after the concert’s encore, aptly the overture to La forza del destino, to signal his disdain.

  • Gustavo says:

    Bravo, Riccardo Muti!

    You are behaving just how I expect an Italian Maestro to behave.

    You simply can’t be Mr Nice-Guy all the time.

    Even if you go down in history as an unpleasant character like Toscanini or Karajan, who really cares?

    It’s the music that counts.

    • Richard says:

      Yes, it is the music that counts. I’ve just been listening to Toscanini’s Wagner Liebestod — the most orgasmic ever made. Nobody cares how he behaved.

      • Erstwhile timpanist says:

        You echo the appreciation I have felt for that Toscanini recording since around 1963. I will continue to love that recording even after discovering that the orgasmic climax may not be in tune with that moment in the music drama. In context, that may be a more tender moment for Isolde.
        Nonetheless, long live that musical orgasm for what it surely is; arguably not only the most orgasmic Liebestod but also the most orgasmic climax in recorded music.

    • jobim75 says:

      Completely agree, the times some people seem to enjoy and expect are as enjoyable as a plate of cold pasta with no dressing and no butter….

  • Ben says:

    Without commenting on the Ego of big conductors, I think this is more about good manners.

    La Scala, Chailly and musician‘s unions did not realise until a few weeks ago, that the 11th of May 2021 is the special date of the 65 years reopening of La Scala under Toscanini. They would have had the chance to start organizing a special concert years ago. They obviously did not.
    So, when the found out, Chailly and others tried everything to stop this concert under Muti from happening (which did not work).
    So instead, Chailly attended the concert and successfully tried to provoke Muti deliberately to get some reactions. Under this light a shitstorm for Muti seems to be a quite onesided view…

    • Gustavo says:

      What a great hack by RM!

    • Gustavo says:

      Next theory: COVID was deliberately spread at la Scala to prevent Muti from triumphing.

      But the VPO and Muti (always well prepared) were the first to get the jab, and the show went on.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Two Ricardos:
    > Muti = Boring
    > Chailly = Exciting

  • Alviano says:

    None of us was there. None of us knows what any of the players was thinking or feeling. All of this is irrelevant.

    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      > “None of us knows what any of the players was thinking or feeling.”

      “A quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing.”
      ——Neville Chamberlain, September 27, 1938, speaking on the BBC after throwing Czechoslovakia to the wolves

  • Gustavo says:

    La Tempesta di Merda

  • BRUCEB says:

    Speaking of the term “Shitstorm:” I remember reading about Angela Merkel using it in a press conference and causing a fuss in the English-language press. Apparently in German it (the English word) is simply used to mean “when something blows up on the internet.”

  • E says:

    OK i leave this thread with this. Yes I stay anon on here but c’mon how many of your commenters have actually worked with him. Muti is a genius. And in every case I encountered him, professional and kind and funny and amazing. so really people, shut up.

    • Player says:

      E, they know nothing but are jealous of a good deal. So what if Muti is a little out of his time for the woke brigade? His Verdi is divine, his heart in in the right place about art and artists, and he is a good egg. Well done, Ricky Riccardo. Next?

      • Chicagorat says:

        So funny. Some people are so made for each other.

        He has said multiple times at dinner that Chailly is an “amateur” and “does not understand music”. He makes homophobic comments about YNS (who had only been too kind to him) and other gay musicians. That’s a heart in the right place about fellow artists, according to you.

        Seems like you like your eggs straight and rotten.


        • steve says:

          well if you’re at dinner with him, why don’t you say something back? lmaooo

          • Lady Violin says:

            The Italian site of Vanity Fair reports that Muti said the following about Chailly: “He will never take the Wiener to La Scala six times like I did. I don’t understand why La Scala has not booted him yet.”

            I don’t understand why we have not booted HIM yet.

            You can’t get over that your idol is being exposed as a minuscule, vulgar man. Just like Trump casts a spell on his right wing morons, so has Muti been casting his incantation throughout his life on men, and women, alike.

            Maybe we need to endure him until 2024 but at least not all of us here are in a supine position (morally or physically speaking).

          • steve says:

            or…maybe you just can’t get over the fact that you’re easily replaceable…literally a dime a dozen. and BTW, if you have such a superior moral position compared to the rest of us, why don’t you quit and tell the world what’s really going on?…but then again, i’m guessing you’re not as great as you think you are lmfao

        • E says:

          oh why do i bother with this. muti works with gay artists all the time and is not remotely discriminatory. just enuf already. fine he perhaps can be difficult at times but really calling him homophobic is simply obnoxious. he is not. and i know this for a fact.

          • Burnham says:

            Reminds me of the line “Look, I am not racist, I have 3 black friends”!

            The world is full of people like that who then in private use the N-word, make racist jokes etc. etc.

            It is true that YNS has even invited Muti to conduct the Philadelphia. Maybe now he’s taking a cue from Chailly and revising his plans. Unless he wants to be kicked out of his own Philly office with a “Who the f*** are you? Get out of my balls!”

          • Ashu says:

            That strikes me as a pretty strong argument, actually.

      • E says:

        Amen, Player! I especially like your reference to the Woke Brigade… That parade drives me nuts.

  • Fiddleman says:

    Regardless who is conducting, La Scala should be reopened by its own orchestra. Anything else is really bad form.

  • steve says:

    None of you were there and none of the purported “journalists” writing about this were there either. In all the years I’ve known RM, I can tell you that he is a good and decent human being and has treated me—and many others—all with the utmost respect and professionalism. It hurts to see all this baseless vitriol against him, by those who really don’t know anything about him or the situation at hand.

  • Kypros Markou says:

    How are all these comments relevant to music and music making?

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Certainly brings no honor to the house, or to the memory of Toscanini….