MILAN, Italy (Reuters) -- Top tenor Roberto Alagna stormed off stage after he was booed in the middle of a performance at Milan's La Scala opera house, forcing a costumeless substitute to replace him and drawing criticism from organizers.
"There has been an obvious lack of respect towards the public and the theatre," La Scala's artistic director, Stephane Lissner, said in statement on Monday, calling the incident regrettable.
French-born Alagna, known as "the fourth tenor" and hailed by some critics as the new Pavarotti, had been playing the lead male role in Franco Zeffirelli's lavish production of Verdi's Aida, which launched La Scala's new season last Thursday.
But minutes into the show's second performance on Sunday night, a small section of the audience began booing Alagna, who had just finished singing an aria, apparently displeased about comments he had made about La Scala's demanding audience.
The 43-year old, already upset by some of the reviews he earned for his performance on the opening night, raised his fist defiantly and walked out, leaving stunned fellow singer Ildiko Komlosi to sing "a duet on my own."
After a few moments of embarrassment, with some in the audience shouting "Shame on you!", understudy Antonello Palombi jumped in and carried on singing wearing a pair of jeans and a black shirt for lack of a costume.
Bet La Scala doesn't give up Alagna for Jerry Stackhouse and Austin Fucking Croshere.