Milan will be greener next year thanks to Mahler and Claudio Abbado.
It may have been internal opera politics that ultimately drove the great Italian conductor out of La Scala, where he served as music director from 1968 to 1986, but Abbado -- along with his left-wing Milanese pals pianist Maurizio Pollini and the late Marxist composer Luigi Nono -- was always controversial in the larger political arena as well.
Variety reports that after a 23-year self-imposed absence, Abbado finally agreed to return to La Scala and conduct two Mahler symphonies only if the city plants 90,000 trees.
This probably will make La Scala the greenest opera company, given that the current adventurous administration had already commissioned Italian avant-garde composer Giorgio Battistelli to write an opera based on Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" for the 2011 season.
-- Mark Swed