Lissner said too much was being made of the Dec. 7 opening — one of Europe's most highly anticipated cultural events, where red carpet glitz and off-stage drama sometimes upstage the music.
"For me, the Jan. 15 opening of 'Falstaff' is just as important as the Dec. 7 opening of 'Lohengrin,'" Lissner said.
Highlighting Verdi's special relationship with La Scala, the opera house announced Tuesday that two of its corporate sponsors had purchased manuscripts of the maestro that they will formally donate on the eve of the Falstaff opening.
They include a telegram from Verdi to legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini after the Falstaff premiere: "Thanks, thanks, thanks!"
Despite Napolitano's absence, the government will be well-represented at the season premiere, held every year on the date honoring Milan's patron saint Ambrose. Premier Mario Monti is expected to attend along with five government ministers, as well as EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.