A night of opulence, gowns, political figures and controversy around this year’s Scala opening night.
As the city of Milan lights up with its exhuberant Christmas lights, guests zip up their dresses and fasten their ties for the year’s greatest opening act. It’s December the 7th and the Teatro alla Scala is inaugurating the yearly theatre season.
Long gowns and a thin red carpet welcome guests as they take their seats amidst the neoclassical masterpiece that is the Scala. Men in bowties, intricate up-dos and none other than Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni make for an interesting view. Dressed in black with a navy suede shawl, she was accompanied by none other than Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission since 2019.
The performance chosen for the opening was Boris Godunov’s 3 hour long Russian opera, an enchanting performance conducted by Riccardo Chailly which culminated in a 13 minute long applause from the public and a whole load of ardent criticism. It was viewed as propaganda for the Kremlin in a time where Russian troops are occupying and violently invading Ukraine. When asked about this by the press, von der Leyen spoke about not wanting Russian culture to be intermingled with Putin. “We should not allow Putin to destroy all this,” she spoke.
A letter from the Ukrainian consul petitioning to remove Godunov was also in the picture, but The Scala explained the opera was chosen by Chailly three years prior and was far too late to be changed. This did not satisfy the protesters present in the area, who counteracted by explaining how the Polish National Opera in Warsaw canceled its April performances of the same opera mere days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
As for the rest of the season, La Scala is welcoming a plethora of acts including the famous Nutcracker, Christmas concerts and Michael Volle. The season is promising, finally welcoming an excitable audience, eager to be back at the red-velveted room following some devastating years of global pandemic.