Daniel Barenboim to quit La Scala two years early

World-famous conductor Daniel Barenboim is to step down as musical director of Milan's La Scala opera house two years early at the start of 2015, the theatre said on Monday.

Daniel Barenboim to quit La Scala two years early
Daniel Barenboim will step down as musical director of La Scala in early 2015. Photo: Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Grana/Flickr

Stephane Lissner, superintendent of La Scala, announced Barenboim's early departure at a meeting with unions, calling it "the end of an era".

Barenboim, who took up the post in December 2011, informed Lissner and Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia, who is also president of La Scala, of his intentions in a letter.

Italian media claimed that Barenboim, 70, would be succeeded by a Milanese conductor, Riccardo Chailly, but the reports have not been officially confirmed.

Lissner is leaving La Scala in August 2014 to manage the Paris Opera and will be succeeded by the Austrian artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, Alexander Pereira.

Chailly would be Pereira's choice, local media said.

Israeli-Argentine Barenboim will continue his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra founded in 1999 with the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said, which brings together young Arab and Israeli musicians.

Barenboim also oversees an academy for young musicians in Berlin, housed in a concert hall built by celebrity architect Frank Gehry.

In the meantime, the maestro will keep all his commitments for 2014, including Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Tsar's Bride", "Cosi Fan Tutte" by Mozart and Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra".

He will open the 2014-15 season with Fidelio, Beethoven's only opera.

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Romanian billionaire and seven others die in Milan plane crash

A light aircraft piloted by Romanian billionaire Dan Petrescu crashed into an empty office building near Milan on Sunday, killing him, his wife and son, and all five others aboard.

Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato.
Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato on October 3rd. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 had taken off from Milan’s Linate airport shortly after 1pm headed for Olbia in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia.

It crashed just a few minutes later into a building in San Donato Milanese, a town southeast of Milan, according to aviation agency ANSV, which has opened an investigation.

Witnesses said the plane was already in flames before it crashed into an office building undergoing renovations.

Petrescu’s 65-year-old wife, who also had French nationality, and their son Dan Stefano, 30, were killed.

Italian media identified the other passengers as entrepreneur Filippo Nascimbene, a 33-year-old from Lombardy, with his wife, young son and mother-in-law, who have French nationality.

Petrescu, 68, was one of Romania’s richest men. He headed a major construction firm and owned a string of hypermarkets and malls. He also held Germany nationality, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Flames engulfed the two-storey building, next to the yellow line subway terminus.

“The impact was devastating,” Carlo Cardinali, of the Milan fire brigade, told news agency Ansa.

Deputy prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano was quoted by Corriere as saying that the plane’s black box had been recovered.