“Back to square one. We'll return the money to the Saudis,” the opera house's president Giuseppe Sala said, adding that the board had voted “unanimously” to refund over €3 million received so far.
The proposal to use some €15 million in Saudi Arabian government funds for the historic theatre had come under fire earlier this month because of anger over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The October killing of the Washington Post contributor in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul sparked international outrage. Riyadh denies involvement and says the killing was carried out by rogue agents.
The deal could have seen Saudi culture minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah take up a seat on the board, media reports said.
La Scala director Alexander Pereira, who had negotiated the financing deal with the Saudi culture ministry, will keep his job, Sala said, amid reports he would be ousted over the controversy.
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP