Italian conductor Fabio Luisi has caused a row in the opera world after cancelling several European engagements when he was called upon to replace James Levine at The Met, New York.
Luisi was scheduled to conduct Richard Strauss’s Elektra at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera on 30 September, but withdrew three days after rehearsals were due to start, according to a statement made by the theatre. The Teatro dell’Opera is now threatening The Met with legal action.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Teatro said: ‘This unpleasant affair damages the world of classical music and opera’.
Luisi has also cancelled appearances with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, of which he is principal conductor, as well as at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. Speaking to The Guardian, a spokeswoman for the Teatro Carlo said: ‘We're unhappy since he was a top name we brought in to open a season of concerts.’
The Met named Luisi as principal conductor after James Levine pulled out of his autumn engagements due to ill health.
Luisi has been principal guest conductor at The Met since April 2010, and had already stepped in for Levine’s cancelled performances earlier this year.
The first production he will conduct as principal conductor will be Mozart’s Don Giovanni on 13 October. Levine is scheduled to return to The Met to conduct Wagner's Götterdämmerung in January.