(New York Times) — Alexander Pereira has gone through his share of trials as artistic director of La Scala. He was nearly blocked from starting his job in 2014 when the Italian authorities questioned the legality of purchasing four productions from the Salzburg Festival. More recently, in March, he inflamed the theater’s advisory board and local politicians by courting the Saudi culture minister as a sponsor.
The minister, Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, had pledged a total of 15 million euros, about $17 million, with the promise of becoming a board member. La Scala’s administration rejected the deal and is to decide late this month whether to renew Mr. Pereira’s contract, which expires in the spring of 2020.
The house will continue with plans to collaborate with the government of Saudi Arabia on converting an all-girls’ school in Riyadh, the capital, into a coed music conservatory that will include ballet, instrumental teaching and a choir. The facilities, for 600 children, are scheduled to open in November.
At home in Milan, Mr. Pereira has increased private sponsorship for La Scala by €8 million since 2014 — relieving the house of a €6 million deficit when he arrived. The company receives a third of its approximately €123 million budget from public funding (compared with more than half at the state operas of Vienna and Munich). […]