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France's Meyer new director of La Scala in Milan

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Milan (AFP)

France's Dominique Meyer, currently the director of the Vienna Opera, was appointed Friday to direct Italy's famous La Scala Theatre in Milan, the city's mayor said.

Meyer, 64, previously director of the Paris and Lausanne Operas, will take over from current Scala director Alexander Pereira.

There will be a year or so of overlap: Meyer will take up the post from "mid-2020", while Pereira will stay on until mid-2021, according to Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan and president of the Scala Foundation.

At the head of the prestigious Vienna Staatsoper since 2010, Meyer achieved high attendance figures, with some 610,000 spectators per season.

He also successfully developed live paid broadcasts and brought in former French star dancer Manuel Legris as ballet director.

Critics accused him however of timidity in his programming and poor staff management, with French conductor Bertrand de Billy quitting in 2014, followed the same year by Austrian music director Franz Welser-Moest.

The Vienna State Opera's prestigious ballet academy is also under investigation after allegations that students were subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse by two teachers.

One of the teachers was dismissed in January.

Meyer was also accused by some of failing to bring in big enough international talent.

Pereira, 71, has been director of La Scala since September 2014.

The former director of the Zurich Opera House and the Salzburg Festival saw his Milan mandate tarnished in March by a controversy over the possible use of Saudi funds to finance La Scala.

He was forced to backpedal after an outcry over the issue of freedom and human rights in Saudi Arabia.

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