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Teatro alla Scala
The Teatro alla Scala is one of the things Milan is most famous for, and it is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. I must admit that I don't know much about opera, but it was still on our to do list, and we were not disappointed!
When you arrive, the buildings looks actually quite small - the façade is not that big, but in fact, the building is just very long, you cannot really grasp how huge it is when you stand in front of the entrance. It was constructed from 1776 to 1778 and was named "Scala" after a church that had been located here before. It was commissioned by Maria Theresia, and designed by the architect Guiseppe Piermarini.
Once you have paid your entrance fee, you walk up a big staircase, the walls are decorated with old advertising posters of different operas. You then get to the museum which I liked very much. The architecture of the rooms is most beautiful, most of all the hall of mirrors which is just so elegant. Moreover, I found the things on display very interesting, although, as I said, I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to the opera. There are many historical pictures and portraits, a lot of costumes and props, scores, busts of famous composers and many more interesting things.
If there are no rehearsal going on, you can also have a look at the theatre itself, you can enter the galleries and look down on the stalls, see the stage from above and admire the luxurious interior of this place. It is the original design from 1778, with red velvet and gold-plated stucco. I had seen pictures of this, and the real thing was just as impressive as I had expected!
When you leave the museum, there is of course a big shop where you can buy anything to satisfy the new-found opera freak within yourself...
If you want to know more about this opera house, please visit Nemorino's Milan page, where you will find a lot of info about how to get tickets, where to sit etc.
Opening times: Open every day except special holidays (check website), 09.00am to 12.30pm and 01.30pm to 05.30pm
Admission fee: 6€
- Theater Travel
- Museum Visits
Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theatre)
Located in the homonym square, Teatro alla Scala was built on the side of 1381 St. Maria della Scala church.
The Austrian Empress Maria Theresa was the one who actually financed the construction of the theater and the architect was Giuseppe Piermarini, a passionate advocate of the neo-classical school.
The theater was officially inaugurated in 1778 with Antonio Salieri's "Europa Riconosciuta".
La Scala was reopened in December 2004 after a three-year break due to complex restoration and renovation works.
- Museum Visits
- Theater Travel
Museo Teatrale Scala (La Scala Theatre Museum)
Visiting La Scala Museum is the best way to learn more about the history of the theater and the history of lyric music in general.
The museum was founded at the beginning of 20th century and houses three collections: the Giulio Sambon Collection acquired in Paris, the Verdi Collection, and the Theater Collection, being one of the largest and most complete theatrical collections, with around 80,000 volumes.
- Theater Travel
- Museum Visits
The most world famous opera house
The Neoclassical building of Scala with its exceptional acoustics was the sample for many other opera houses in the world, but first of all in Italy.
Its construction as a fitting replacement for the Teatro Ducale (sadly destroyed by fire), in the late 1700s took place by the help of Empress Maria Teresa of Austria, who was also Duchess of Milan in the same time. The new Scala was inaugurated on August 3rd, 1778 with the premiere of Europa riconosciuta of Antonio Salieri.
The earlier popular Neapolitan "opera buffa" in its program replaced by Rossini's romantic operas eventually and in the first quarter of the 19th century La Scala became the traditional place of the Italian melodrama, which persists even today.
In its repertoire, however, you can find also ballet and foreign operas of composers such as Mozart, Strauss, Stravinsky, Debussy etc. with the performances of famous artists including Callas, Peggy Fonteyn or Nureyev.
The 2008 season has started at the end of October, to my biggest surprise,: the operetta par excellence, the masterwork of the Hungarian Lehár, "Die Lustige Witwe."
Try to take in a performance if you are here between the beginning of November and the end of June. Tickets are like gold dust, for a seat on the orchestra level, expect to spend a fortune, if avalable. If you can manage to get tickets, wear casual suit; you are there for glamour and you have to do your part too.
- Theater Travel
"The Da Vinci Code"
Directly behind the Vittorio Emanuele Galleria and facing La Scala is the Piazza La Scala. In the center is a monument consisting of several statutes of which the one of Da Vinci dominates. I'm not exactly sure what the Da Vinci connection is here, but maybe after I find the book on Milan that I bought, it can shed some light on this. Or if any of you VT's have the facts, let me know. The statue of Da Vinci seemed eerie to me after having read "The Da Vinci Code" a few months ago which connected him with the "illuminati."
The world famous La Scala is open again!
The world famous operahouse in Milan, La Scala, has now finally re-opened. After being re-built, or nearly newly built indoor, for more than two years it’s now open for the crowds again.
Unfortunately this long time means that it’s really hard to find any tickets now… But make a try! Should be worth it if you’re a big opera-fanatic.
You could order tickets online from their homepage, see the address-field.
The theatre was opened in 1778. Until 1996 it was driven only by the economical gifts from the public, but since 1996 it's a private theatre.
The building itself has its venue very close to the Duomo, with just the galleria between them. From the outside it doesn’t look anything special, just like a common house. But from the moment you enter it’s a total other thing.
From the day of re-opening (7 december 2004) the museum of La Scala has also returned to the building.
To get there, just take the metro to the Duomo, or a taxi if you don’t want to take the metro in your opera-clothes… From the Duomo it’s as written above very close.
Lend Me a Tenor!
Perhaps the most venerated temple to opera in the world is the Teatro alla Scala but its outside appearance seems to belie its internal beauty. Designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala opened its doors to the world in 1778 with Antonio Salieri's "L'Europa Riconosciuta." La Scala was built, under the "auspices" of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, to replace the Regio Teatro Ducal built in 1589 which was destroyed by fire. In a complicated situation of land ownership, the owners of theater boxes of the Ducal were the individuals who actually paid for the building of La Scala which is built on the former site of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala.
La Scala is known far and wide for its incomparable acoustics and the many musical giants who performed here or had their works performed here including Verdi; opera singer, Maria Callas; and Arturo Toscanini. It is also home to Scuolo di Ballo (La Scalla's Ballet Company) and Museo Teatrale alla Scala which is located in its annex. For those VT'rs who were Thespians and Garricks, you might enjoy the museum here which is said to be a treasure of paintings, sculpture, backdrops and other memorabilia of prominent singers and composers who have created history in La Scala. La Scala was undergoing renovation (which began in 2002), the face of La Scala was shrouded when I saw it (March 2004). Apparently, renovations have now been completed.
NOTICE: please check the website to make sure that any performances you plan to attend are, in fact, actually taking place. A quick check today (3/25/09) revealed that a performance of "I due Foscari" scheduled for 3/31/09 is being cancelled due to a national strike!!
Check the website for current prices of admission to the various tours, museums or for combination tickets.
La Scala Opera House, the most famous opera theatre in Milano traditionally opens its opera season on December 7th, although there are other productions year round summer brings special programmes of music and culture.
Total capacity: 2200 persons
(678 orchestra seats, 409 seats in the first and second galleries, and 155 boxes on four levels)
After the stunning cathedral and galleria I was expecting something special from the world famous La Scala opera house, but it struck me as a little ordinary after the wonders of the Piazzo Duomo. Still, what the opera house may lack in extravagant exterior design, it more than makes up for in prestige, and will now again play host to the best musicians on the planet, night after night. Tickets for the opera can be bought for as little as €12, for seats in the central circle, and you can even get them online following the link given below.
The La Scala opera house is now fully restored and operational again after much time under wraps.
This palace currently plays host to Milan's town hall, but it was once the home of a rich Genoese merchant who commissioned the building, and whom the palace is named after. The palace was built between 1553 and 1558, but underwent extensive restoration after damage during World War 2. Apart from the town's governors, the palace contains a courtyard stacked with monuments, an entrance hall filled with artwork from new artists, along with an exclusive restaurant, and more accessible cafe.
Is one of the world's most famous opera houses. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778, under the name Nuovo Regio Ducal Teatro alla Scala with Salieri's Europa riconosciuta. La Scala's season traditionally opens on 7 December, Saint Ambrose's Day, Milan's patron saint. All performances must end before midnight; long operas start earlier in the evening if need be. Ticketholders are not allowed to enter after the performance has begun.
El Teatro de la Scala es uno de los teatros más famosos del mundo. Fue el primer monumento reconstruido tras los bombardeos de 1943 y cuenta con el privilegio de haber sido sede del estreno de muchas óperas famosas y de haber mantenido una relación muy especial con el compositor Giuseppe Verdi.
- Historical Travel
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Teatro La Scala
La Scala, Italy's best-known theater, is located alongside the church of St. Maria della Scala, built by Bernabo Visconti's vife Regina della Scala, in 1381. The theatre was officially inaugurated on August 3, 1778 with Antonio Salieri's "Europa Riconosciuta".
La Scala was designed by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini in neo-Classical style.
By the time of my visit, the theatre was still under the major reconstructions.
- Family Travel
Box seats at La Scala
On one of my Strasbourg tips I noted that I had paid 46.80 Euros at the Strasbourg opera house for a seat with only a partial view of the stage.
At the time this struck me as being rather crass, but it turns out to have been good value for money compared to Milan's Teatro alla Scala, where I paid 66.00 Euros for a seat with no view of the stage whatsoever. The only way I could see even part of the stage was to stand up and lean over, thus blocking the (limited) view of two other people behind me. So I only did this every five minutes or so, for a quick look.
Actually I was forewarned about this, because La Scala acknowledges the problem on their website.
"Dear members of the audience," they write, "La Scala is a theatre with boxes in the style known as 'Italian', designed by the architect Piermarini in 1778 for Milan back then. It has a plan in straight horseshoe, that is, tapered to the proscenium - which is an extreme and rigorous evolution of the antique Greek theatre."
They go on to say that an opera house like La Scala, "above all in the boxes", requires an "active" participation on the part of the audience, and they mention a famous historical drawing showing people leaning out to see the stage.
"We therefore publish on our website a significant sample of the views from the boxes, so that everyone can know the dimension, the disposition and the spirit of a theatre built for the customs and habits of the late 18th century audience. To prepare oneself to an experience that is somehow also a travel in time."
From the photos on their website you do get a hint of what awaits you, but only a hint, since the photos were taken when the house was empty, so in reality you see even less as soon as someone is sitting in front of you.
There were five people in my box. The Italian man had been to La Scala before and had booked a "seat" where he could stand the whole time and not block anybody else's view. The French woman said she went to all the new productions at the Bastille opera house in Paris, where she never paid more than 20 Euros and always had a full view of the stage.
An elderly American couple had the two front seats of our box. They had paid 170 Euros each for their seats, plus various booking fees and agency markups, so that altogether the evening had cost them well over seven hundred U.S. dollars even though they could see only about a third of the stage.
The woman didn't mind, because she slept through the whole performance anyway, but her husband was bitterly disappointed. He was a 75-year-old retired professor who had been dreaming all his life of seeing an opera at La Scala, and he was totally shattered by the reality of the place. Because of problems with his back he couldn't even lean out over the edge to get a better view.
During the first intermission he complained bitterly to the ushers about this situation, and in the second intermission they told him that he and his wife could move down to the stalls (aka orchestra-level) where they had found two free seats.
So I got to sit in his 170-euro seat for the last third of the evening, which was a great improvement for me because I could actually see a fraction of the stage.
What I "saw" that evening was Il trittico, a collection of three short operas by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924).
When I returned to Frankfurt am Main people asked me if the Scala production of Il trittico was as good as the one at the Frankfurt Opera a few months before. Well, it wasn't, but since I only saw snippets of the staging I can't really comment in any great detail.
Second, third and fourth photos: Looking up at the four tiers of boxes and two galleries. From the center boxes directly opposite the stage you can actually see what's going on.
Fifth photo: Just before show time.
To understand the seating arrangements at La Scala and similar opera houses, keep in mind that in the 18th century the best seats in the house were not the ones where you could see the stage, but the ones where the rest of the audience could see you -- if you chose to expose yourself to their view.
You have to imagine the common folks down in the stalls gazing up at the boxes and exclaiming to each other: "Look, the Countess X is in her box tonight! I saw her! She even smiled at me, sort of." At least the Countess could get her kicks imagining that that's what the common folks were saying.
- Theater Travel
Museo Teatrale alla Scala
In one wing of the opera house, off to the left of the main entrance, is the Theater Museum of La Scala.
The first photo shows the entrance to the museum, which is also the entrance to the galleries when there is an opera performance. And this is also where the scalpers tend to hang out trying to sell black-market tickets at exorbitant prices.
The museum consists of ten rooms with displays of musical instruments, paintings and other artifacts from the history of opera in general and La Scala in particular.
Also there is a space for temporary exhibitions. When I was there the exhibit was on the singer Maria Callas at La Scala.
No photography is allowed inside the museum.
The museum is open almost every day (all except nine days per year) from 9 am to 12.30 pm (last entrance at 12 noon) and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm (last entrance at 5 pm). A normal full-price admission ticket costs five Euros and includes a glimpse of the auditorium from one of the boxes, except when rehearsals or performances are in progress.
When I was there they were adjusting the lighting for the first act of Verdi's Macbeth (as in other opera houses, an extra player wearing one of the costumes had to stand around for hours while they did this), but we were allowed to have a look just the same.
Second photo: For three days during my visit to Milan there was a large trailer from the Cecilia Bartoli Music Foundation parked outside the museum. In it was an interesting free exhibition on the famous singer Maria Malibran (1808-1836). Malibran was the big star of La Scala for three seasons in the 1830s. Of course Cecilia Bartoli herself was also in town to give a recital of arias from Malibran's repertoire, "Malibran Rediscovered".
- Theater Travel
- Museum Visits
La Scala Opera House...
The La Scala Opera House is perhaps the 2nd most famous symbol of Milan (ah yes, il Duomo wins hands dowm and is the most famous attraction). The elegant and opulent surroundings of La Scala ensure that a night at the opera will definitely be a night for you to remember.
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