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[September 23, 2014]
By Isla Binnie
ROME (Reuters) - Riccardo
Muti has said "basta" to Rome's opera house after a
six-year tenure as honorary director blighted by
strikes, infighting and financial woes.
The veteran maestro wrote a letter to the theater's general
director Carlo Fuortes to say he had dropped plans to conduct
upcoming productions of "Aida" and "The Marriage of Figaro".
"Sadly, despite all my efforts to contribute to your cause, the
current situation does not guarantee the serenity I need to
ensure the productions are a success," Muti said in a letter
quoted by Fuortes in a statement on Monday.
Muti became the second music director of a European opera house
to walk out this month. Franz Welser-Moest, one of Austria's
most famous conductors, quit as musical director of Vienna's
famed State Opera just days after its 2014-15 season began,
citing an artistic clash with its director.
Italian media said Muti had also resigned as "honorary director
for life" at the Rome opera house, but there was no immediate
confirmation of this.
Fuortes, in a joint statement with Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino,
thanked Muti and said his decision was "doubtless" influenced by
the protests, internal strife and months of strikes over
conditions and staffing levels, which have forced the
cancellation of several productions.
Muti, who resigned from the more prestigious La Scala opera
house in Milan nine years ago after a power battle with workers
and musicians, is considered one of Italy's great conductors but
has attracted criticism for his domineering management style.
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His tendency to scowl at the audience and shush them quiet earned
him a formidable reputation which was only strengthened when he
stormed out of a production at London's Covent Garden in 2004
because changes had been made to a stage set.
The Rome Opera did not say whether there would be any changes to the
season's calendar following Muti's departure.
Marino and Fuortes said they hoped Muti could return to the post
"once the problems that still afflict the theater, and the world of
music in Italy in general, are overcome".
Marino and Fuortes said they would keep working to straighten out
the finances and management of the Rome Opera, which they said is
now back in the black after losing around 12 million euros ($15.39
million) last year.
Muti, who has also wielded the director's baton at the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra since 2010, said his main focus in Italy would
now be on the Cherubini youth orchestra he founded in 2004.
($1 = 0.7800 euro)
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Michael Roddy and Crispian
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