Riccardo Muti resigned as musical director of the Teatro alla Scala, the famous Milan opera house, on 2 April. In his resignation letter Muti, who was appointed to the position in 1986, explained that hostility towards him on the part of the opera house musicians and their unions, many of whom he had worked with for almost 20 years, had forced him into his decision.
Problems at La Scala have been brewing since July 2003, when Muti called for the removal of the theatre superintendent Carlo Fontana. In December 2004, Mauro Meli was appointed as part of the executive team at the opera house and in February 2005 the managing board dismissed Fontana, without apparent reason, and appointed Meli to take his place. Musicians and other staff at the theatre, who had not been consulted about the changes, met in mid March and expressed criticism of the board and showed their unwillingness to accept Meli as new superintendent. They also called for the resignation of Muti, who has always been an autocratic if gifted musical director. The mayor of Milan, Gabriele Albertini, has been criticised for allowing the problems at the opera house to run out of control.