Musical director falls at the Bastille

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PARIS (AP) - The troubled Bastille opera house yesterday sacked Myung Whun Chung, the South Korean musical director who has shaped its artistic policy since the ultra-modern facility opened in 1989, throwing the National Opera of Paris into a new crisis just days before rehearsals are supposed to begin for the 1994-95 season opener, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra.

The opera's bosses issued a communique stating that the musical director had spurned demands to renegotiate his 11-year contract and was thus relieved of his duties. The opera opened to great fanfare on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution but has not been trouble-free since then.

Mr Myung became musical director in January 1989 to succeed Daniel Barenboim, who was fired in similar circumstances six months before the opera even opened.

According to Thursday's edition of Le Monde, Mr Myung recently received an ultimatum from the opera directors to renegotiate his contract, which expires in 2000. The proposals would have frozen his annual base salary at 3.5 million francs ( pounds 392,000), shortened his contract to 1997, and given the opera's overall director final say on hiring artists. Mr Myung refused.