The resignation caps week of conflict sparked by the dismissal of La Scala superintendent Carlo Fontana in February. Musicians and stagehands believed that the powerful Muti had forced out Fontana, with whom he had an uneasy working relationship, in order to install his ally Mauro Meli in the position.
Unions began a series of labor actions, striking for the first performance of each production. On March 16, workers and musicians voted overwhelmingly to call for Muti's resignation.
"I had no choice," Muti told the La Scala board, according to Agenzia Giornalistica Italia. "The hostility put on display in such a crude manner by people whom I have worked with for almost twenty years makes it really impossible to pursue a working relationship, which should always be based on harmony and trust."
"Making music together," he added, "is not only teamwork; it requires a sharing of regard, passion, and understanding, feelings I believe have been a constant factor during my twenty years at the Teatro alla Scala"
The conflict has dashed the celebratory mood that existed at La Scala at the end of last year, when the 1778 opera house reopened after a three-year renovation.
Muti has previously served as principal conductor and music director of Florence's Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival, principal conductor of the London Philharmonic, music director of the London Philharmonia, and music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra.