Within days of the announcement that Saudi Arabia has bought its way onto the La Scala board of directors, word now comes that the Saudis have approached the Royal Opera company at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
At La Scala, the Saudis, in essence, purchased a seat on the board for their Minister of Islamic Culture by giving $17 million to the opera company, an amazing amount of money that the always financially strapped board could not reject. Opera fans throughout Italy, which means virtually the nation's entire population, were incensed.
"Italian opera, especially as produced by La Scala, is at the heart of Western Civilization. Saudis are not a part of that. Why do they want one of theirs on our opera board, unless it is to promote their culture, not ours?" read the front page editorial in a Rome daily.
Strings attached to the Saudi gift to the Royal Opera company at Covent Garden have not been revealed. In the United States, the music world has been joined by politicians on the left and right in condemning the offer made to the Met.
Under the terms of the Saudi offer, the Met would receive $20 million, but, in return, would have to stage a new opera, composed by an unknown Saudi, which chronicles the life of the Crown Prince. Entitled "MBS," the never before performed opera is a paean to the prince, Mohammad bin Salman. Those who have read the libretto say there is no reference to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.
Typical of right wing reaction was this statement by Steve Bannon: "This insidious attempt to infiltrate a hallowed American institution, the Met, with a foreign culture that creeps by stealth into our way of life, reminds us of 'creeping socialism.' Let's call it 'creeping Koranism.' And let's stop the creep immediately. The Met should make no deal with the Saudis."
The Met board has not yet responded to the Saudi offer.
Milan, Italy. Special to The Spoof.