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La Scala Appoints New Director

Fortunato Ortombina has been appointed as the first Italian director of the house in recent memory

 

Fortunato Ortombina has been named the new director of Milan's opera house, La Scala. Ortombina, who was previously the general director of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, was elected unanimously to the position and will begin on August 1, 2025. He succeeds the French impresario Dominique Meyer, who has led the opera house since 2010.

The selection process has not been without its controversies. Giorgia Meloni, the far-right Premier of Italy, has been taking a nationalist stance on appointments in Italy's major cultural positions, and the climate strongly favors Italians over foreigners for these jobs.

In May 2023, Italy passed a new law which states that no person over the age of 70 may lead one of Italy's 13 state-owned opera houses (though La Scala does not belong to this group).

Critics such as Alberto Mattioli have suggested that the new law was conceived specifically to oust certain foreign directors from their posts — such as the French director Stéphane Lissner, who was dismissed from the Teatro San Carlo in Naples after the law was passed. He was later reinstated after taking his employers to court.

Originally from Mantua, Fortunato Ortombina has a background in trombone, composition, and musicology. He spent eight years working on Verdi's autograph scores at the National Verdi Study Institute, and published previously unknown works. He has held directorial roles at both Teatro La Fenice and La Scala.

“After three foreign general directors, Stéphane Lissner, Alexander Pereira, and Dominique Meyer, an Italian returns to La Scala," said Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy's culture minister.

"We have done everything for the good of La Scala, for dignity and fairness."

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