The Pereira-La Scala saga yesterday took a step closer to conclusion. The mayor of Milan, president of the La Scala board, announced that Pereira's La Scala contract will be terminated at the end of his first year, in 2015.
"There is no doubt that Dr. Pereira exceeded his powers. The error is certain," mayor Giuliano Pisapia explained in a press conference.
Nobody disagrees with the general tenor of Pisapia's judgement. Objection has come only from those who think Pereira should pack his bags immediately. They include one of the 10-strong board, who otherwise sided with the mayor. The mayor countered "We have taken the only possible decision. This is no attempt at mediation, but the only way to avoid a catastrophe".
Pereira will also have to make a commitment not to dispute the decision, and any proposal for expenditure he makes must have the prior consent of the Board.
The mayor was asked what would happen if Pereira didn't accept the decision. "In that case he will go immediately, there will be a dispute, and we will evaluate what to do, but we would be in serious trouble," admitted Pisapia. "It would be difficult to find another superintendent straight away." He also indicated Pereira's departure would be closely followed even by that of the recently-appointed music director, Riccardo Chailly, one of the few vociferous supporters of the Salzburg Festival boss.
Sounds like it's all over for Pereira and his dream job - but is it?
The Italians, said the mayor, were unable to contact Pereira yesterday - but the Salzburger Nachrichten could.
What he told them may surprise you.
The idea to limit the contract until the end of 2015 came from Pereira himself, he insisted. He said he wanted to take pressure off the whole matter. He believes that his work will be so good next year that his contract will be renewed then. "I have gained time," he claims, "You have to understand Italy." So confident is Pereira that he is now making La Scala plans for 2018.
Pereira's view of Italy may be too old-fashioned. Objections to his cavalier ways are deep-rooted. The Lombardy culture minister, Cristina Cappellini, is in the anti-Pereira camp. She described the board's decision as "ridiculous". "It is immoral to let him continue in office after he has disgraced the most important opera house in the world [sic]," she said.