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La Scala vote ousts general director

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

MILAN — The board of La Scala voted on Thursday to oust its incoming general director at the end of his first season in the latest behind-the-scenes melodrama to roil the fabled opera house.

Salzburg Festival director Alexander Pereira had been brought on for five seasons, but the board voted to oust him when the upcoming 2014-15 season ends amid allegations of a conflict of interest.

La Scala board chairman Giuliano Pisapia, who is Milan's mayor, said Pereira overreached his powers by making a deal for La Scala to buy four operas from the Salzburg Festival, of which he is still director, before officially assuming his role at La Scala on Oct. 1.

‘‘Pereira without a doubt went beyond his powers,” Pisapia told reporters.

Pereira, who spent two decades with the Zurich Opera before heading to Salzburg in 2011, has said he was following common practices for European theaters.

Not since Ricardo Muti was pushed out as musical director in a worker mutiny nearly a decade ago has there been so much turmoil in La Scala's ranks. The controversy risks damaging La Scala's prestige just as Milan prepares to host Expo 2015, the world fair that will feature a concert series at La Scala.

Pereira's curtailed tenure could have consequences for La Scala's musical direction. Pereira had brought on Riccardo Chailly, replacing Daniel Barenboim in the role of musical director. Barenboim bowed out two years early to make way for Pereira's choice.

Pereira, 66, was named last June to replace Frenchman Stephan Lissner, who will depart on Sept. 1 for the Paris Opera. He spent nine seasons at La Scala. Pereira, sought for his business acumen and fundraising ability, has been working at La Scala in the intervening period, as Lissner has been working on his own transition into the Paris Opera.

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