Tenor who quit will sue La Scala

The tenor Roberto Alagna, who walked out of La Scala in mid-opera after being booed, claimed yesterday he had been under physical risk from the audience.

The tenor Roberto Alagna, who walked out of La Scala in mid-opera after being booed, claimed yesterday he had been under physical risk from the audience.

"What if they had thrown stones at me, or some crazy person had attacked me?", he told Reuters. "La Scala should have protected me. The show should have been suspended. Instead they carried on as if nothing had happened. After all, John Lennon ended up being killed."

Alagna stormed off the stage on Sunday during the first act of Franco Zeffirelli's production of Aida after being whistled and booed by some of the theatre's famously demanding loggionisti, the subscribers who occupy the cheapest seats. His understudy, Antonello Polombi, took over the part - dressed in jeans - and won loud applause.

La Scala's management said another tenor would be taking over Alagna's role.

French-born Alagna said he had told La Scala he was ready to return to the show but the opera house had turned him down for breach of contract. "They sent me a letter saying that the contract is annulled and that they are not going to pay my expenses. So I went to my lawyer today and we are going to sue them."

La Scala declined to comment, saying legal advisers were studying the case.

It is thought to be the first time a singer has walked out during a performance at Milan's opera house other than for ill health.

Alagna's decision to leave the stage was ridiculed by the director, who said "a tenor ought not to lose his temper like a little boy". In an interview with the newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale, Zeffirelli said he was considering dropping the singer from a forthcoming production. The famously explosive Alagna, who is of Sicilian parentage, had been lined up to sing in Zeffirelli's Traviata at the Rome opera house.

The veteran director said: "I do not believe I can agree to work with a tenor who has acted in such a fiercely, stupidly rude way towards La Scala."


John Hooper in Rome

The GuardianTramp

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