16 May 2014

La Scala Board Shortens Incumbency of Incoming General Director Alexander Pereira after "Serious Errors"

Following an investigation into potential conflicts of interest, the board of Teatro alla Scala voted on Thursday to end the tenure of incoming general director Alexander Pereira after just the first year of his contract, coinciding with the end of the company's 2014-2015 season. When his appointment was first announced in June 2013, Pereira's original contract specified an initial term of five years.

Pereira, who is also the artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, is not scheduled to formally assume his post at La Scala until October 1, 2014, but the company's board voided his original five-year contract after it concluded that he overreached his authority in inking a deal for the Milanese theater to present four productions from the Salzburg Festival during upcoming seasons. Until he assumes the role of general manager, Pereira is functioning as a consultant to La Scala, and, as such, reportedly does not retain the authority to make programming decisions. Following the vote, La Scala's board reportedly sent Pereira a letter outlining the terms of his newly abbreviated contract, specifying that he will now oversee the theater from December 7, 2014 through December 31, 2015. The board also determined that its members would have to ratify any additional programming or casting decisions made by Pereira before they could take effect. 

"Pereira without a doubt went beyond his powers," said Giuliano Pisapia, Milan's mayor and the board chairman of Teatro alla Scala.

While an investigation by La Scala's board of directors noted that Pereira did not personally profit from €660,000 in production purchases from the Salzburg Festival, the board publicly admonished Pereira for making "very serious errors," and said that he did not yet have the authority to acquire the productions of Don Carlo, Falstaff, Lucio Silla and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg from the Austrian festival.

For his part, Pereira told Turin's La Stampa that he had "always acted in good faith," but admitted that "perhaps [he] had made a bureaucratic mistake."

Pereira's amended contract reportedly does leave open the possibility of overseeing the Milan theater for a full five-year term, but only if La Scala's board regains trust in his leadership. 

Asked if he would like to continue his tenure at La Scala after December 2015, Pereira is quoted as saying: "If the atmosphere remains like this, no. But if, as I hope, I am able to convince my colleagues, the board, the artists and of course the audience of the validity of my work, then yes. [...] I continue to think I am the right man in the right job. And I would be happy to finish my career in an opera house this beautiful. There is no love without pain. La Scala has made me suffer, but I love it."

Prior to joining the Salzburg Festival, Pereira served as the intendant of Zurich Opera for two decades. spacer 

More information can be found at The Guardian, Corriere della SeraBasler Zeitung and the OPERA NEWS Archives ("New to Salzburg").

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