Austrian picked to head up La Scala opera in Milan

Austrian picked to head up La Scala opera in Milan

MILAN - Agence France-Presse
Austrian picked to head up La Scala opera in Milan

Austrian Alexander Pereira is the new musical director of the La Scala opera house in Milan. He has replaced French Stephane Lissner. AFP photo

Austrian musical director Alexander Pereira was picked on June 4 to head up the prestigious La Scala opera house in Milan, replacing Frenchman Stephane Lissner, the city’s mayor said. The 65-year-old former tourism manager is currently artistic director of the Salzburg Festival and formerly led the Zurich Opera House.

Pereira “is the person we consider most suited to raise the value of our jewel,” mayor Giuliano Pisapia said after a unanimous vote by the board.

Pisapia, who is head of the board at La Scala, said there had been a “good battle” for the post but that Pereira best fulfilled key criteria such as fundraising capabilities.

In a sign of the times in recession-hit Italy, Pereira’s salary will be “at least 25 percent” lower than the 350,000 euros ($458,000) a year of his predecessor and he will not have free housing. La Scala took the unusual move of posting the job publicly and received 25 applications.

Pereira started out working for Italian technology company Olivetti and was appointed in 1979 to be a board member for the Frankfurt Bach Concerts. In his youth, he studied vocal performance.

In 1984 he was appointed secretary general of the Vienna Konzerthaus where he succeeded in attracting a younger audience, according to a biography on the Salzburg Festival website.

He led the Zurich Opera House from 1991 to 2012, encouraging young singers and seeking to make music more accessible to a wider audience. Lissner has been named to take over the Opera National de Paris from 2015 when the current director Nicolas Joel is due to step down.