In One Week, This Man Was Both Named To Run An Opera House And Sentenced To Prison

Carlo Fuortes - Sovrintendente del Maggio, photo by Michele Monasta-Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Carlo Fuortes – Sovrintendente del Maggio, photo by Michele Monasta, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Less than a week ago Carlo Fuortes – formerly head of Rome Opera and then the RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster – was nominated as the new Intendent of the Fondazione del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence’s opera house.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said, “With his mandate, he is called upon to re-launch one of the nation’s major cultural institutions.” Under Alexander Pereira (former intendent at La Scala and then in Florence) the theatre had accumulated huge debts.

A delighted Fuortes said, “I know I can count on the two internationally appreciated artistic ensembles, the Orchestra and the Chorus, and on the guidance of Daniele Gatti, the principal conductor to whom I am personally and professionally bound, and of Maestro Zubin Mehta, conductor emeritus, one of the greatest conductors of all time.

I am aware of the responsibilities that await me and the tasks that this office entails. Although it is too early to announce plans, I will work on a new cultural and artistic project that can confirm the extraordinary role of this great theatre, through the artistic excellence of its programming, but also through its operational, economic, and financial sustainability.”

He pulled off a similar trick in Rome which was in dire straits economically until he arrived in 2013.

However, his joy soon disappeared when The Court of Rome handed down a 16-month prison sentence in connection with the death of Oberdan Varani, a cleaner who fell while working at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in 2017, violently hitting his head and dying in hospital after nine days in a coma.

The judges also ordered, in favour of the victim’s family, a provisional payment of €220,000 for the violation of occupational safety regulations.

Fuortes’ lawyer said, “This is a disconcerting sentence which we will appeal against. It is a sentence that condemns Fuortes for a death at work but not in connection with a work-related risk. It’s a death that occurred because the worker slipped off the first step of the ladder and had a blood alcohol level of 1.3g/l in his blood. The reason he slipped is related to his blood alcohol level. I don’t know how the intendent of the theatre can be implicated in this case.”

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