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$2 million for La Scala – Will fund Verdi celebration

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An American investor has given $2 million to Milan’s La Scala opera house as part of his campaign to bring U.S.-style arts patronage to Europe, Reuters reported July 23.

Alberto Vilar, who is one of the world’s most generous arts patrons, gave the money just in time to fund planned celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of Verdi’s death.  The gift marks a new stage in La Scala’s history.

“This is the first time since La Scala became a foundation that it has received a donation from a private citizen and one who comes from abroad,” Carlo Fontana, the opera house’s superintendent, told Reuters. 

La Scala became a joint stock company in 1997, in order to round out diminishing state subsidies with private donations.  Donations so far have mostly come from Milan fashion houses, banks and utility firms.

Vilar, who has given $150 million to opera houses and productions over the years, hopes to change that pattern.  He is now waging a one-man campaign to encourage Europeans to increase their donations at a time when governments are scaling back arts spending.

“It will take years, but I hope that through this example there will be more private patronage of the arts in Europe,” Vilar said.

Vilar has been a major investor in technology for 20 years, buying into Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo! and America Online before they became household names.  His Amerindo Investment Advisors manages a portfolio worth $8 billion.

For full story, go to America Online.

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