21 Jan 2005
Muti in Milano
Here, indicates the maestro, is the “punto Callas”. Riccardo Muti and I are standing onstage at La Scala, Milan, where so many great operas have been premiered and countless distinguished singers have sung. Facing the deserted auditorium, he points to an unmarked spot on the floor, right of centre, which Maria Callas established as her sovereign territory. It is the punto, or position, which best showed off a singer’s voice in a theatre renowned for its acoustical quirks. “There was great competition for this point,” smiles Muti. “In a quartet you would have a tower of singers.” Breaking the eerie stillness, the maestro claps his hands to show how much more flattering the acoustic has become since the great Milanese theatre reopened last month after a three-year renovation. Has La Scala ever resonated so crisply to the sound of one person’s applause? Muti’s point is that there is no longer any need for a “punto Callas”.