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The Teatro Della Scala of Milan Bars the Journalist of the Corriere della Sera Paolo Isotta

MILAN – For the first time since he has worked as a theater critic, the journalist of the national daily ‘Corriere della Sera’, Mr. Paolo Isotta, on February 1st last year has not been able to enjoy the usual free entrance at La Scala in Milan, which the Teatro usually grants to accredited journalists and critics.

Free admission to attend the performance of Nabucco was denied by the decision of the superintendent of the theater, Mr. Stéphane Lissner, who has thus decided to protest against some very critical articles, although the official stated reason was that the request arrived late and the seats were all sold out.

In fact such decision stemmed from some articles that were particularly critical of La Scala and its conductors, in particular of Mr. Daniel Harding and, indirectly, of Mr. Claudio Abbado. For Mr. Isotta, who has called for the intervention of the mayor of Milan, Mr. Giuliano Pisapia (president of the theater) this has been “an unprecedented attack on the freedom of criticism”.

The editor of the ‘Corriere’, Mr. Ferruccio De Bortoli, defended his collaborator in the first-page column published on February 2nd entitled “The closed doors of La Scala in the Corriere’s critique’s face” by stating that freedom of criticism is sacred “as long as it doesn’t degenerate in tone and content” and adding that Mr. Lissner would never have addressed the media in his country (i.e. France) in such a rude way. Mr. De Bortoli also pointed out that on October 18, 2011 he had already received a letter from Mr. Lissner asking for Mr. Isotta’s head, which, however, he “will not get this time either.”

Mr. Lissner’s reply has been swift: on February 3rd he wrote on the Corriere that La Scala had never asked for “Mr. Isotta’s head”, but the decision was nonetheless taken because the articles were, in fact “campaigns of a personal nature different from that of a music critic”, and were “powerful tools, weapons against something or someone, institutions and artists.”

The National Association of Music Critics, while stressing to not want to enter into the specific merits of the case, expressed “concern for a choice that, in fact, threatens the free exercise of criticism preventing the regular work of one of its professionals.”

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