Music: Shortage at La Scala

Milan's La Scala has been going for 171 years. And for most of that time it has been one of the world's greatest opera houses. Its audiences had heard premieres of the operas of Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Verdi, Puccini. The greatest singers—Patti, Melba, Caruso, Chaliapin, Gigli—all graced its stage. From 1921 to 1929, under Arturo Toscanini, La Scala seemed to have reached a golden plateau. But last week even the proudest Milanese were admitting that something was very wrong with their great opera house.

The trouble was the singers. As La Scala's great...

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