The Scala is the main theater in Milan, among other 30 theaters allocated in different parts of the city, and one of the most important in the world so together with your escort don’t lose the opportunity to visit it.
In origin there was a previous theater, called Royal Ducal Theater, which was destroyed by fire in 1776 during a carnival party: after this incident the city remained without theater so a group of rich men of that time, who also owned private boxes, asked to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria the construction of a new theater. All the expenses necessary for the building were entirely payed by this wealthy people who asked in exchange the property of the land and also the renewed property of their boxes.
The project regarding the construction was committed to the architect Giuseppe Piermarini who made a first design, which was rejected by the governor, and then a second design which was approved by the Empress Maria Theresa. The new building took his name from the previous church “Santa Maria alla Scala” allocated in the same place and then demolished: after two year the construction was completed and the new theater’s name was in origin “the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala (New Royal-Ducal Theatre alla Scala).
It was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera L'Europa riconosciuta.
After the inauguration the theater, which in origin had about 3000 seats, became a fundamental and prestigious place where rich people – often accompanied with the escorts of that time - nobles and the elite society in Milan could have their meeting and intertainments; at that time the main floor was without chairs and the orchestra pit was not yet built. Like the majority of the theaters in that period, La Scala was also a casino and the place reserved to the gambler was the foyer.
About the lights, it was in origin illuminated with 84 oil lamps on the stage and about 1000 in the rest of the building; in the following period the oil lamps were replaced by gas lamps and in the recent time from the end of 19th century, it was possible to put electric lights.
The first restoration took place in 1907 and at the end of this architectural intervention the theater changed its appearance becaming as it appears today, but after the World War II it was necessary a second restoration as the building was seriously damaged because of bombing. After this, in 1946 the theater has been returned to the city and for this occasion took place a wonderful concert directed by Arturo Toscanini.
A third restauration was necessary in the recent times: the architect Mario Botta planned the project which took place from 2002 to 2004. The architects and designers tried to combine two differents ideas and tendencies: from one side the necessity to create a modern and functional building and from the other side the desire to keep its original style and magnificence. In the meantime all performance moved to the Theater of Arcimboldi in Milan and at the end of restauration was organized a concert with the same opera used in origin, “the Europe revealed” of Antonio Salieri.
If you and your escort love opera and lyric, you must know that there are some important names linked to La Scala which the most famous are Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini. Verdi (1813 – 1901) is a big legend and had a deep relation more than any other with the theater: he played the cycle of his operas in 1839 and in 1842 was performed the legendary Nabucco which was the first triumph in his carrer. Nabucco became a very popular opera in the society to be identify with La Scala.
Verdi relationship with La Scala was not always good as he refused for years to play his music accusing the orchestra to have changed some of his original music and words about “Giovanna D’Arco”. After this dispute he returned to play on 1874 conducting the Requiem and other wonderful masterpieces in the following years.
About Toscanini, he is one of the most famous and greatest conductors of the world: he played Otello in 1887 and by 1898 he became the main conductor of La Scala; from 1921 to 1929 he was the Music Director and during this prestigious charge he made some reforms about the organization, bringing the theater in one of the magnificent period of his history.
La Scala hosts a Theatre Museum, situated in Milan next to the opera house in Piazza della Scala and also accessible from the foyer, which was opened in 1913: don’t forget to visit it with your escort as it contains an extraordinary collection of paintings, statues, bust, costumes, musical instruments, set designs, documents, and other things regarding the theater and the opera history. It hosts also The Biblioteca Livia Simoni which is a museum library created in 1952 with originally 40.000 volumes; currently it has 140.000 volumes regarding opera, ballet, actors, dancers and music history.
The Theater hosts also the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra; inside the organization there is a school called La Scala Theatre Academy (Italian: Accademia Teatro alla Scala), where aspirant young artists can study music, dance, stage craft and stage management.
La Scala is one of the most prestigious theater in the world with an extraordinary history of more than two centuries during which it hosted legendary composers, singers, ballerinas, conductors: unforgettable personalities in the history of classical and lyric music such as Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Gaetano Donizetti, Gioachino Rossini, Arturo Toscanini, Guido Cantelli and many others. Not only italian artists but also famous singers from around the world appeared there, so if you like history and classic music I would be glad to escort you in this magnificent Theater.
It is situated in the centre of Milan near Duomo square and next to Vittorio Emanuele Gallery and the season opens every year on 7 december at Saint Ambrose patron of the city.