La Scala’s music director has rejected a demand from the Ukrainian consulate to cancel Musorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov on the grounds that it served Russian propaganda.
Chailly said: ‘We are all with Ukraine waiting for the conflict to end, but politics and its consequences cannot be coercive for culture… Pushkin and Musorgsky are elements that created the art and music of the nineteenth century. Touching them would be like doing the same to Dante or Shakespeare. Boris Godunov is a work that tells of a character who will pay a price for the murder committed to reach power, first with madness and then with death. When you see the opera, in the interesting direction of Kasper Holten, you will realize that there is no propaganda for Putin.
‘A month after the start of the war, with one hundred musicians and an international cast we took the stage to express the participation of the theatre in defense of Ukraine. On 4 April we conducted Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” and that Amen, In sempiterna saecula was the Milanese cry of pain against the war. An evening without fees and with the funds raised (380 thousand euros ed) in favour of Ukrainian refugees. To remove a masterpiece from listening, which ends with the madness and death of the Tsar, is to penalize culture. The idea is to link “Macbeth” with “Boris”, linking them to the abuse of power that consumes and leads to madness. Do we want to abolish Shakespeare? In January we will perform Tchaikovsky, then a concert for the 70th anniversary of the death of Prokofiev, a Ukrainian genius. There is a lack of objectivity with respect to art. Art must not pay for the destruction of what has happened since February 24th.’