Ensombrado por ameaças de greve, substituições de última hora e o espectro de cortes orçamentais radicais, o Don Carlo milanês lá viu a luz do dia, entre apupos e desagrados.
«Critics' reaction to the gala premiere at La Scala can be summed up in one word: Boring.
The last-minute decision to substitute the lead "Don Carlo" tenor with his understudy created tension that spurred many in the audience to open rebellion against conductor Daniele Gatti, emitting whistles and catcalls at his every entrance.
A critic for Corriere della Sera called the level of hostility "almost scary."
But for all of the backstage drama that seemed to poison the audience's reception, American tenor Stuart Neill, received sympathetic, if lukewarm, reviews for the performance he gave after Giuseppe Filianoti was unexpectedly removed.
Alfredo Gasponi of il Messagero agreed that Neill demonstrated "confidence," but noted that the last-minute switch had taken its toll with the orchestra overwhelming the singers in some places "because the new tonal relationships were not yet defined."
Despite the difficult circumstances, Neill told reporters afterward that he felt comfortable in the role.
Neill wasn't singled out for criticism by Corriere's long-time critic, Paolo Isotto, who said he found the whole execution "boring."
Most of the cast — with the full exception Dolora Zajick as the princess of Eboli and partial exception of bass Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip — "sang their roles as though they were reading the phone book," Isotto wrote.
Isotto expressed disapproval for the catcalls mid-performance, the likes of which he said he hadn't seen in nearly 30 years covering opera. "It is tantamount to tampering with a sporting event," Isotto wrote.
While Gatti was "courageous and resisted with apparent serenity," the tension came through "in a dry sound that in some parts seemed like the orchestra drowning out the singers like an illegal streetband."
In the end, "Don Carlo" received just eight minutes of applause — a modest showing for a La Scala premiere.»
No final, sublinho, os escassos 8 minutos de aplausos – manifestamente pouco, no caso de uma première - resumem a coisa: pouco acima da indiferença.
(Stuart Neill, como protagonista de Don Carlo, em substituição de Giuseppe Filianoti)