Opera boss in Italy row says he is ‘no donkey’

The soon-to-be director of La Scala opera house in Milan said on Friday he will prove he is "no donkey" after getting caught up in a conflict of interest row.

Opera boss in Italy row says he is 'no donkey'
La Scala boss Alexander Pereira is on a one-year contract. Photo: WILDBILD/AFP

Austria’s Alexander Pereira has ruffled feathers in Milan by getting La Scala to take on four productions from the Salzburg Festival which he currently heads up.

Some members of La Scala’s board had called for Pereira’s appointment to be scrapped altogether but eventually proposed cutting short his three-year contract to just over one year ending in December 2015.

“I accept this decision,” Pereira told the Corriere della Sera daily, although he signalled he would like his stay in Milan to be extended once he takes up the prestigious post in September of this year.

“I hope to prove to the people on the board during my year that I am no donkey,” the 66-year-old was quoted by the La Stampa daily as saying, although he admitted that he had “maybe committed a bureaucratic error”.

Pereira’s stint will coincide with the Milan Universal Exposition between May and October 2015.

Pereira is known as a skilled fundraiser and promoter of young talent who has worked with some of the biggest stars in opera including Riccardo Muti and Zubin Mehta.

Pereira, who started out working for Italian technology company Olivetti, is artistic director of the Salzburg Festival and formerly led the Zurich Opera House.

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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.