Ukrainians protest staging of Russian opera at Italy's La Scala

FILE PHOTO: Milan's La Scala opera house re-opens to the public

MILAN (Reuters) - A Ukrainian diplomat has written to the head of Milan's La Scala opera house and to local political leaders to protest over plans to stage the Russian opera "Boris Godunov" next month.

Andrii Kartysh, who heads Ukraine's consulate in Milan, said such performances should not be used to support "potential elements of propaganda", Italy's Ansa news agency reported on Thursday.

'Boris Godunov' was composed by Modest Mussorgsky in the 19th century. Russian bass and soprano Ildar Abdrazakov and Anna Denisova are cast in the main roles for this production, which kicks off La Scala's new season in early December. The event is one of the highlights of Italy's cultural calendar.

Kartysh accused Russia of "using culture to lend weight to its assertions of greatness and power" following its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Several associations representing Ukrainians living in Italy have also protested against the choice of Mussorgsky's classic work at this time. They have called for a different opera to be staged and for no Russian works to be put on until the war is over.

Dominique Meyer, artistic director of the theatre, said when he presented the programme in June that he had no plans for a cultural boycott of Russia.

There was no immediate comment from La Scala on Thursday.

A source close to the matter said it was too late to change long-established plans for the opening night, with the sets already in place.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi in Milan and Angelo Amante in Rome; Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Alvise Armellini and Gareth Jones)