Riccardo Muti prepares to lay siege to La Scala

Riccardo Muti prepares to lay siege to La Scala


norman lebrecht

June 14, 2021

Following the disreputable row he engineered at his recent return to the crucible of Italian opera, Muti has announced that he is moving his opera academy from his home town of Ravenna.

The new destination is Milan, on La Scala’s doorstep.

The press statement is a little overblown: Today there is great news: Riccardo Muti will be in Milan, in the wonderful spaces of the Prada Foundation, with his project Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy, aimed at the enhancement, protection, dissemination to the public of Italian opera and transmission to new generations of musicians of the method learned from his great masters, along an ideal line that binds him to Giuseppe Verdi through Arturo Toscanini and Antonino Votto.

The real story is that he will be coaching his Academy students in Verdi’s Nabucco in November and December, just when Riccardo Chailly – his imaginary enemy – is rehearsing Verdi’s Macbeth as La Scala’s season opener.

There are several Milan venues where Muti might stage an opera: the Orchestra Verdi’s Cariplo hall, the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Teatro Nuovo, Teatro Manzoni, Teatro Smeraldo. Most think he will choose the concert hall of the Conservatory, which is closest to La Scala.

Did you learn about the Punic Wars at school?

The are the puny wars.




  • Beata says:

    That Milan was going to be where Muti’s Italian Opera Academy 2021 event would take place was planned long before La Scala concert with the Vienna Philharmonic. I read about it in March. See

    • Chicagorat says:

      You are missing the point. The point is the Italian Stallion planned this mockery to be in competition with La Scala Verdi opening, which was scheduled YEARS ago.

      Muti’s Academy is a money machine built on the skin of the young Cherubini musicians, who are underpaid and exploited by Muti and his family.

      And Muti should stop with this Toscanini bs already. Toscanini, who in many respects was an asshole just like Muti, was at least a man: he stood up to dictators, (did not pose for selfies with them), had way more class in writing “sentimental” letters (ask Harvey Sachs, the expert on this topic), did not build a career on his hair, turned down all honorary degrees (hoarded by Muti) and the Italian lifetime honorary senatorship (which Muti would kill for).

    • J says:

      Just to put things in proper perspective, Muti pulled a similar stunt in Chicago. The Lyric Opera scheduled Cavalleria years in advance, and then Muti decided to do Cavalleria in the same season, unstaged.

      so The Lyric begged the CSO to do another opera, any opera, in order to not undermine their revenue stream, the CSO tried to be a good neighbor and convince Muti, but Muti was unmovable (read, he did not give a f, he who always pays lip service to art and his fellow artists).

      If memory serves me well, the Lyric swapped that title out.
      What a petty man!!! Jajajajaja

      • steve says:

        uh no, cavalleria at lyric was canceled due to covid last yr…not cause of the cso.

      • CSOA Insider says:

        Thank you. Not only did Muti not give a ****. He actually leveraged the situation to demonstrate his hard power. Why should the Great Muti be bothered by the Lyric’s balance sheet (an institution that he has often derided)? So goes his thinking. For him, it became a matter of “principle”. He was offended that people asked him to change his plans.

        Alexander, after a couple of timid and deferential tries, bowed to Muti as he always does.

        The CSO musicians could not care less about the institution a few blocks away.

        Muti the conductor is debatable, Muti the man is not.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    “La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo” Part II without the talent of Ugo Tognazzi

  • CSOA Insider says:

    Before being banned by La Scala, Muti was banned by Teatro San Carlo after his sleazy attack on Stéphane Lissner, carried out on the Corriere through Muti’s ridiculous puppet Valerio Cappelli, and by the failed former Naples superintendent, Francesco Canessa, whom Muti enlisted on the columns of another paper for his “mafia-style” PR hit.

    Lissner was guilty of having cancelled Muti’s very expensive Wiener concert in the midst of the pandemic. The Corriere published a pathetic piece titled “I am offended”, which forced Lissner, a serious and competent professional and financial administrator, to defend himself on the press.

    Mr. Lissner recently commented: “I am sorry about what happened with Muti, but it was all too heavy”.

    The fact that Muti behaved in such a sick way was obviously not only about the Naples cancellation: his hate of both Lissner and Chailly goes back to his 2005 Milan ousting, when he was voted out by every single member of the Orchestra, Choir and of the Staff (note: EVERY SINGLE La Scala employee voted against him).

    Then the s***-storm happened. So, in the space of only a couple of months, Muti was banned by Milan and Naples, two places where he should in theory be welcomed, if he were a decent man.

    Soon United Airlines, Allstate, Northern Trust and other corporate sponsors may very well start looking into the details of what he is doing in Chicago. Will he be banned in Chicago too?

    The jury is out.

    • Fabrizio says:

      In Italy we know how La Scala is dependent upon the Unions, more than in any other institutions in the same category. Many projects with or without Muti failed as they faced huge opposition from the Unions, for reasons that I respect of course but that over time grew in impact without any real benefit other than working significantly less. We have seen CSO and Philadelphia Orchestra both going on strike in 2019, therefore I am not shocked. But La Scala is significantly ruled by Unions since the season in which Fontana believed he could become politically relevant in Italy by supporting the Unions.

    • Novagerio says:

      “which forced Lissner, a serious and competent professional and financial administrator, to defend himself on the press.”
      Right, the guy who couldn’t tell the difference between Carmen and Tosca, or Butterfly and La Forza in a quizz.
      A serious and competent man in maybe just anything, except opera, despite having lead de Aix-en-Provence, La Scala and the Paris Opera.

      • Tristan says:

        so true and totally overrated wherever he was and just look what he left in Paris
        Barenboim’s lousy conducting of so much at la Scala (not only Verdi but awful Giovanni which had at least a fabulous direction of Carsen) was among the poor legacy
        People just don’t get it anymore what a great Maestro is – yes Toscanini Giulini Votto de Sabata Gavazzeni and later Abbado and Muti – that was Italian Opera as it’s best and only two others were equal in it: Karajan and one even topped all of them: Carlos Kleiber – the rest is good but nothing to write home about
        It’s like the ridiculous Alexander Pereira comparing Callas or Tebaldi or Scotto with the Russian tank of Netrebko – the media just writes all those nonsense but haven’t got any idea of quality

    • Plush says:

      CSOA Insider –a fraud. If you have information about “what he is doing in Chicago,” offer it up. I know that the orchestra members are certainly very pleased that he is still the Generalissimo.

      • steve says:

        exactly. “csoa insider”, “chicagorat”, etc are all just a lot of e x t r e m e l y fragile snowflakes, apparently damaged so much inside that they feel the absolutely bizarre need to vent here LMAO

    • Save the MET says:

      I know many members of the CSO and Muti has no problems there. They love making music with him and he responded by standing with them during their strike a few years ago. Barenboim on the other hand, could not leave fast enough. Your information is extremely faulty and you are far from an insider if that’s the stuff you are coming out with.

      • stickles says:

        I remember vividly listening to a radio broadcast of the Leningrad Symphony by San Francisco Symphony last year. When the hauntingly beautiful oboe entrance came in the first movement, I thought “Wow, who is that oboe? Why can’t the CSO get an oboe like that?” Then I remembered that that was once the CSO principle Eguene Izotov. I am still upset at the early departure of McGill and Izotov, and it will take the new kids still a few more years to fill those shoes.

        • Richard Master says:


          that is, the CSO under Muti’s reign.

          They pack their shit and leave.

  • Burnham says:

    Looking back at history helps:

    From the Guardian

    “The last world should go to the legendary director Franco Zeffirelli, not […] a stranger to egomania. In a virulent outburst Zeffirelli first denounced Muti’s Scala regime: “La Scala has lost that magic. It has become the Vanity Fair of a mediocre conductor. The level of La Scala has gone down the sink.”

    And then he really got personal. Muti, he said, is “… drunk with himself, drugged by his own art, and his own personal vanity. He can only talk about himself. He has become a caricature of a maestro.”

    All very sad. And the saddest thing of all is that apart from Muti himself, no one has told Zeffirelli he is wrong. It could and should all have been so different.”

    Also another nice quote from the Independent:

    Carlo Fontana after staff demanded Muti’s departure: “The people of La Scala have rejected absolute monarchy”

  • Chicagorat says:

    The Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, who is gay, should carefully examine whether Muti is known to have made homophobic comments before proclaiming a “Muti’s day” in Chicago to celebrate the Italian Stallion’s return. I will write to the Mayor’s office via certified mail, so at least they cannot say the Mayor did not know.

    • Fabrizio says:

      Who knows the Maestro personally can confirm that many of his best friends in personal life are gay and that he always supported them. This is true also for more than a couple of Musicians with whom he worked for many years.

    • what? says:

      Maybe you shouldn’t stir the pot if you don’t even know about any alleged homophobic behavior from the conductor. Seems like the mayor of a major city should be spending her time doing her job, rather than going on a wild goose chase.

  • Chiara says:

    Muti’s Academy season in Milan was planned months before the events at La Scala & had nothing to do with it. BTW, not everything said or written by Muti’s detractors is necessarily true and not everything written by Muti’s admirers is necessarily false. Just saying.

  • Gustavo says:

    I just got his signed autobiography in English.

    I really don’t understand why everyone is getting so worked up about RM.

    He’s a great conductor and a personality of incredible charisma, style, focus and energy.

    I don’t know any other living conductor who works with such dedication and passion to preserve the tradition and dignity of his own culture.

    • Rosa says:

      Style is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Muti’s abuse of Chailly in Milan.

      So the answer to your question likely is … because is a jerk?

  • John Borstlap says:

    There’s also another story, that he is training 500 motor club youngsters in a camp in Sicily, to surround La Scala when Chailly is performing, and closing-off the theatre until Chailly surrenders and can be put in chains and transported to the cellars of the San Vitale in Ravenna to be locked-up until Muti will be retiring.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    I have plenty of spies in the CSO and I will agree that most of the musicians enjoy playing for RM and think he is worthy of the position.

    Personally, I find his music making boring and flat. I have tried to be open minded about it since so many musicians think he is wonderful but I can’t get my hands around it.

    No matter. I am not a regular concert goer anymore nor do I donate to the orchestra. I am content to stay at home, listen to the radio broadcasts on WFMT on SUN evenings and sip my cocktail and then glass of wine with my early supper before bed. And the concerts I enjoy are almost always by guests or past music directors from the archives.

    Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Time to pass the baton, Maestro, and find something meaningful and dignified to do in retirement.

  • Ornella V. says:

    Hearing soon. Ennio Morricome Western Hits by Riccardo & Riccardo in Milan. Who will win the battle?