Former Orchestra President at La Scala Resigned Because of Disgust With Unions' Actions

Classic Arts News   Former Orchestra President at La Scala Resigned Because of Disgust With Unions' Actions
Fedele Confalonieri, former president of the orchestra at Teatro alla Scala and a major backer of the opera house, said he resigned his position out of disgust with the unions, the New York Times reports.

Confalonieri, who also resigned the presidency of the orchestra's board (but not his position on the opera house's foundation board), is chairman of the broadcaster Mediaset, which pays about $700,000 a year for Sunday-morning concert broadcasts. It is unknown whether or not this support will continue when the agreement expires in June.

"We will think about it," Confalonieri told the Times. "Maybe not."

He told the paper he was angry about how La Scala's unions—including musicians, chorus members, dancers, and theater workers—attacked music director Riccardo Muti, eventually causing his April 2 resignation from the post he had held since 1986. Confalonieri felt that the unions should not have turned on the man who raised the level of the orchestra to its current world-class status, and said that the whole thing had the ring of useless revolution. "It was a lot like '68 without the ideals," he said.

La Scala's workers were furious about the opera house's dismissal of general manager Carlo Fontana, and felt that Muti was behind the ouster and that their own jobs were also at stake. As a result, the orchestra went on strike for every La Scala premiere, demanding that Fontana be reinstated.

Confalonieri went on to say that what the union was really attacking—through its attacks on Muti—was the conservative government that controls, to some degree, the workings of La Scala. (Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister and leader of that conservative-run government, is also Confalonieri's boss at Mediaset.)

The orchestra's musicians and their supports found Confalonieri's reaction to the union's actions overblown. Sandro Malatesta, a trumpeter and union leader, said, "He sees Communists everywhere, even in the bathroom."

The unions said that Confalonieri's resignation shows no support for La Scala. "We haven't done this for money," Malatesta said. "We've done it for the defense of La Scala. He did it to defend a friend, Muti. He did the wrong thing at the most wrong moment."

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