Italy's La Scala defends its choice of Russian opera for season opening

Lights are pictured in front of La Scala theatre during the season opening in Milan, Italy December 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/File Photo

MILAN, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Milan's famous La Scala opera house has defended its decision to open its new season next month with "Boris Godunov" despite criticism from Ukrainians about staging a Russian work.

Earlier this month the Ukrainian consul in Milan Andrii Kartysh wrote to the head of the theatre and local political leaders to protest over plans to stage the opera written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in the 19th century.

"We took that decision three years ago, it was impossible to cancel it and indeed why should we cancel it?" La Scala artistic director, Dominque Meyer, told a news conference.

"We do not do propaganda in favour of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and there is nothing against Ukraine," he added.

Russian bass and soprano Ildar Abdrazakov and Anna Denisova are cast in the main roles for the production. The opening of a new season at La Scala is one of the highlights of Italy's cultural calendar.

"Mussorgsky with this opera has challenged power - that's one reason why it is right to stage it", said director Kasper Holten depicting Boris Godunov as a story about power and cynicism.

Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine in February, the Milan-based theatre said Russian conductor Valery Gergiev would not perform at La Scala after he failed to condemn the war.

Reporting by Sara Rossi, editing by Keith Weir and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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