La Scala dancers leave in despair

La Scala is no stranger to turmoil - sackings, resignations and rebellions in recent years culminated in the departure of musical director Riccardo Muti. Now, with this year's season under way, it is the turn of the legendary Milan opera house's dancers to display their temperaments.

In a communique to La Scala's new general manager Stйphane Lissner, members of the 80-strong ballet corps complained that, after an estimated Ј42m refurbishment of the building, their dressing rooms are too cramped. They say there is not enough space to change into their costumes comfortably, and complain that the orchestra, whose dress is not so vital, have better accommodation. If not resolved, the dancers threaten industrial action which could disrupt this month's opening of L'Histoire de Manon.

Ballet buffs in Milan are concerned at the prospect of missing the great dancer Sylvie Guillem, who will alternate with Alessandra Ferri, and management are no less happy.

"It's true that [the dancers' dressing room] is small, but it's a perfectly nice space," said an insider. "Of course, it's not a suite at the Ritz - but they should go to London or other theatres around the world and they would find it actually compares very well. We think there should be solidarity, with everyone working together for the good of the theatre."

Since its grand re-opening last December the opera house has been plagued with in-fighting. Muti resigned in May citing "hostility" from fellow staff, and orchestra president Fedele Confalonieri also stood down. The Pirelli chairman, Marco Tronchetti Provera, a major sponsor, has also quit the board of directors.

Lissner is the first Frenchman to run La Scala, and was brought in because of his soothing management skills, The Guardian reports.

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