MILAN ( Associated Press) — Italy’s most famous lyceum venue, the Teatro all Scala, opens its season Wednesday with the Russian opera “Boris Godunov,” which inspired Ukrainian protests over a cultural event that symbolized a propaganda victory for the Kremlin. Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni plans to attend the traditional season opening ceremony, along with President Sergio Mattarella and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Ukrainian critics of its staging are opposed to celebrating Russian culture because President Vladimir Putin has waged a war rooted in the denial of Ukraine’s own culture.
A protest letter from the Ukrainian consul in Milan and a petition from the Ukrainian diaspora failed to persuade the theater to withdraw from presenting “Boris Godunov”. La Scala officials said principal conductor Riccardo Chelli chose the opera to open the 2022-2023 season three years ago at the suggestion of Russian bass Ildar Abdrzakov.
Abdrjakov will play the title role in the theatre’s season premiere in its sixth performance in a nearly all-Russian cast.
La Scala officials have said it is too late to change the long-scheduled production. He notes that the opera by Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, based on the work of Alexander Pushkin, shows the heavy cost of a Russian tsar to claim absolute power.
“By making ‘Boris Godunov’ we are not campaigning for Putin … It is a great piece of art history,” Dominik Meyer, artistic director of La Scala, said at a recent press conference. “We must see the difference between the political situation and that of Russia.”
None of this convinced the organizers of the protest.
“I don’t know why Italians think that Russian culture has nothing to do with the government or the people of Russia. Everything is intertwined with the medieval mentality created by Putin,” said the native of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and said Valeria Kalachenko, a Milan resident who organized a protest.