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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: December 12, 2006 Archive

Alagna: I quit...La Scala: G'bye

Posted at 5:55 AM on December 12, 2006 by John Zech
Filed under: The blog

I always thought that getting booed at the opera in Italy just went with the territory. Well, like Prof. Harold Hill, apparently superstar tenor Roberto Alagna "doesn't know the territory." He's a little touchy about being booed while he's performing, and La Scala is a little touchy about him walking off stage. Here's how the Associated Press reported it yesterday:

MILAN, Italy (AP) - An opera singer who stormed off stage after
the audience booed him won't have to worry about the crowd anymore.
The opera house won't let him sing.
Officials at La Scala in Milan, Italy, say Roberto Alagna broke
his contract by walking out during a performance of "Aida" last night.
Even though the crowd apparently wasn't thrilled with his
singing, his exit apparently was a stunner. And the understudy was
caught off-guard, too, since he came rushing on stage in jeans.
Alagna insists there was nothing wrong with his singing, but
that he "obeyed the audience" by leaving when they booed. He was
planning to try again until the La Scala opera house told him to
take tonight -- and every other night -- off.

Now Alagna is saying he's going to be back as Radames again on Thursday night, despite what La Scala has told him. It's got a lot of people talking, and speculating, and issuing press statements. You can read a lot more details and juicy bits on Opera Chic.

Ode to Gioia

Posted at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2006 by Don Lee

The Senate yesterday approved a second four-year term for Dana Gioia as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Gioia is best known as a poet (so it's no surprise that he got behind Shakespeare, writing and reading initiatives during his first term). He was also a businessman, employed for several years as a VP at General Foods.

How did he manage to jump from the solitary practice of writing to the collaboration required in corporate life? Gioia credits his music training. He planned to be a composer before deciding that writing would be his career. Before joining the NEA, he wrote about classical music for San Francisco magazine.

As he told Symphony magazine in a 2003 interview,

The most important thing I learned in business was how much more you can accomplish, and how rewarding it is, when you create a situation in which everybody can succeed together. These are not skills that one is taught in the literary world. Musicians understand them, though. Musicians are raised in collaborative situations, and my training in music eventually made this a very natural thing.