MILAN (AP) â€” Guests attending La Scala's gala season premiere of Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco" ("Joan of Arc") had their bags checked & were screened with metal-detecting wands Monday under enhanced security measures put in place for the first time after the Milanese opera house was identified as a potential target in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Hundreds of police were deployed to create a large cordon around the theater for the event, one of the most significant dates on the European cultural calendar. Guests for the gala included Premier Matteo Renzi, singer Patti Smith & other leading figures of politics, business & culture.
"We have to live," Smith said as she arrived Monday evening, fresh from attending the U2 concert in Paris a day earlier to honor of the victims of the Nov. 13 attacks.
p>Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia told reporters that every necessary security measure had been taken. Police cleared the piazza in front of the theater, which in previous years had been the scene of protests or at the very least crowds gathering to watch the glitterati arrive.
Riccardo Chailly is conducting the rarely performed "Giovanna d'Arco," which hasn't been staged at La Scala, where it premiered in 1845, in 150 years.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sings the title role alongside tenor Franceso Meli as Charles VII, reprising roles they sang together in Salzburg two years ago. Baritone Carlos Alvarez won't sing the role of Giovanna's father Giacomo as scheduled, due to illness, & will be substituted by Devid Cecconi.
Source: “Associated Press”