La Scala is ready to inaugurate the season with Verdi’s “Macbeth”

An all-star cast kicks off the season at the world’s most famous opera house.

Anna Netrebko (as Lady Macbeth) and Luca Salsi (as Macbeth) during a rehearsal for La Scala’s new production of Verdi’s Macbeth that will open the new season at the famous opera house. Teatro alla Scala

In 2021, La Scala theater in Milan celebrates the 70th anniversary of the opening of the season on December 7. The premiere, before 1951, used to be on the 26th. For the first time, the musical director of the time, Victor de Sabata, moved the opening of La Scala to the day of the feast of Saint Ambrose, saint patron of the city, originating this tradition with a famous edition of the “Vespri Siciliani.”

The following year, “Macbeth,” also by Verdi, opened the theatre season. This is the fourth time that this Verdi opera has taken the most important spot in the season of the world’s most famous opera house. Victor De Sabata, Claudio Abbado, and Riccardo Muti directed the productions in the past.

“In my opinion, this kind of operas should be done when you have the right artists,” says Dominque Meyer, the Superintendent and Artistic Director of the Teatro Alla Scala. “We are lucky enough to have an exceptional generation.”

The 1847 opera will be conducted by Riccardo Chailly, with a cast including soprano Anna Netrebko, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Luca Salsi.

Once again this year the opening will be accompanied by the Prima Diffusa, a rich calendar of events throughout the week leading up to the performance. “For this premiere, we want to invite the entire population,” continues Mr. Meyer, “even though we will unfortunately only be able to have 2000 people in the theater.” The preview for young people under 30 is also back.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no big screen under the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to avoid crowds and there will be no gala dinner for the guests. “The conditions are not there,” says the superintendent. “We have concentrated on the important things, the performance and the world broadcast thanks to RAI,” he added.

“For me, personally, it is exciting, because I have attended several times the opening of the season because my predecessors always invited me” – the superintendent recalls that there have been several performances where the audience booed the artists, especially the fanatical opera lovers called ‘loggionisti,’ whose booing or applause has dictated failure or success of performers.

“I hope to be in a less turbulent, more polite, more correct age,” adds Mr. Meyer, “and with the artists that we have chosen, we shouldn’t have this risk.”

The choice to produce “Macbeth” concludes a journey inside a triptych by the young Verdi, which began with “Joan of Arc,” and continued with “Attila.”

“I think it is an important performance to which Davide (Livermore, the director) has given a lot of energy and ideas, we have what I call a ‘poker of aces’ with the soloists,” said the conductor Riccardo Chailly. “Because of Luca Salsi, I decided to include Macbeth’s death, counting on his vocal and scenic talent,” Mr. Chailly added.

“Anna Netrebko played Giovanna D’Arco and we worked a lot on the vocal difficulty and the continuous research on the psychological accentuations that underline the dramatic part, and in this case, the murderous ones that she will convey with great determination” added Mr. Chailly.

Both Anna Netrebko, Francesco Meli, and Luca Salsi return after La Scala’s last opening, Puccini’s Tosca, in 2019, along with director Davide Livermore.

“It’s been very difficult. I think this is one of the most complicated productions I’ve ever taken part in. Very exciting, with many new things, also musically, you’ll hear something you’ve probably never heard in Macbeth before” said soprano Anna Netrebko.

“It’s a strong emotion. This is the most important theatre in the world, the temple of opera. To inaugurate the temple of opera is the best and I am happy to do it with my friends,” said Luca Salsi, who will perform the title role. “It has been a very hard and very demanding production but it will give us great satisfaction. I thank Maestro Chailly for reintroducing the death on stage of Macbeth, from the 1847 version, I consider it a great gift from him.” 

Performances begin with the opening of the season, on December 7, and continue until 29 December.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.