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Allegations of embezzlement: Pereira resigned in Florence

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Pereira: “I never had a quiet moment.”
Image: APA/BARBARA GINDL
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Alexander Pereira has resigned as director of the Florentine opera “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino” in a letter to Mayor Dario Nardella. As the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” reports, the 75-year-old cultural manager only fled to the front to forestall an impending suspension. The public prosecutor’s office had already called for Pereira’s removal from office, but now the “misappropriation of public funds” has been added to the charge. It is about 8.5 million euros that were misused from a government fund.

Previously, it was only known that Pereira was being investigated for embezzling funds in connection with the use of a company credit card. Pereira, who has been running the opera house since 2019, was first talked about in June 2022 because of excessive expense reports: Among other things, it was about shopping in gourmet shops or going to restaurants in Ibiza.

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In front of a control committee of the municipality of Florence, Pereira justified the expenses that he only made in search of financially strong sponsors. At the time, Pereira’s lawyer underlined that around 60,000 euros in expenses were being examined, and his client had collected around ten million euros in sponsorship money for the theater.

Pereira, who directed the Salzburg Festival (2012-2014) and La Scala in Milan (2014-2019), explained his resignation for “private reasons”. “Apart from having a very difficult job, I was constantly under attack both inside and outside the theater, especially from the press. So I never had a quiet moment and this situation has led to me losing 20 kilos and I got into a health crisis at the beginning of December,” Pereira wrote to Nardella, who is also the chairman of the opera’s foundation board. And further: “The forces that worked against me never wanted to take this into account. I’m sorry that after so many years of work at the big theaters in Vienna, Zurich, Salzburg and Milan, this experience in Florence has become so sad that I don’t feel like continuing it anymore.” According to media reports, Mayor Pereira asked for his resignation on Friday.

The cultural manager is soon to be questioned by the public prosecutor.

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