Barenboim said at the press conference, "There is no title, there's no contract, there's nothing. And because of this, there's everything," according to the AP. Muti, 64, had been music director of La Scala since 1986 but resigned a year ago citing "hostility" from the opera house's orchestra and staff over soured labor negotiations and canceled performances.
Frenchman St_phane Lissner, who has been general and artistic director since last May, said the search will continue for a music director, stressing that several years are usually needed to make such an appointment.
Barenboim will inaugurate his partnership with La Scala with Verdi's Requiem Mass in November 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Arturo Toscanini. He will conduct at least two opera productions each season for La Scala, starting with Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in December 2007; he will complete the Ring cycle in 2011.
Barenboim will remain general music director at Berlin's Staatsoper, which will enter a collaboration with La Scala that will see the two houses exchange productions, according to the AP.
He is also lifetime chief conductor of the opera's Staatskapelle orchestra and music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which he will leave following a final concert on June 17. The Chicago Tribune reports that Barenboim is not planning to return to the city, quoting him as saying he "has never been a guest conductor."
Barenboim was born in Bueno Aires in 1942 to piano teacher parents of Russian-Jewish descent. He began studying piano aged five and gave his first performance at seven. The family moved to Israel in 1951. Barenboim has had an active career as a pianist and launched his conducting career in 1967. He is also known an outspoken thinker and political activist, particularly on the subject of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.