Welcome to the website of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where you can book tickets online, view the season programme (opera, ballet, concert) and discover the theatre through videos and images. The opening of an opera season is an important event at any opera house, but at La Scala it is indeed something special. It is always on 7 December, Milan’s saint’s day. St Ambrose was the bishop of Milan in the 4th century, highly influential, and became one of the four fathers of the Catholic Church. La Scala Opera House. Written by Web Editor-26 Marzo 2018. Considered one of the most important and famous theatres in the world, known as the ‘Temple of Opera’, La Scala has hosted the most revered names in the world of music and theatre.
The Teatro alla Scala, usually known as La Scala, is probably the most famous opera house in the world. It is in Milan, Italy, which is the country where opera started at the beginning of the 17th century. The theatre opened on 3 August 1778. At first it was called Nuovo Regio Ducal Teatro alla Scala. The first opera to be performed there was Salieri'sEuropa riconosciuta.
MILAN — Milan’s famed La Scala opera house on Thursday unveiled a virtual journey through its ornate premises and rich archives via Google Arts & Culture, with serendipitous timing as theaters. Interior of La Scala opera house in Milan, 1776-1778, architect Giuseppe Piermarini, with four tiers of boxes and two galleries. Italy, 18th century. General view inside the venue during The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 at Teatro alla Scala on September 23, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
Building of the theatre[changechange source]
There had been a theatre there before, called Teatro Ducale, but it had been destroyed by fire in 1776. The new theatre was built where there had been a church called Santa Maria della Scala. This is how the theatre got its name.
The theatre had more than 3,000 seats arranged in six tiers (six storeys) of boxes, and above that the two 'loggione' or galleries. It has a very large stage. The money for the building was found by selling the 'palchi' (boxes) to wealthy noblemen and other rich people in Milan. In the 'platea' (the main floor) there were no seats and the audience there stood up to watch, like they do today in the Royal Albert Hall at the Proms. The orchestra could be seen very well as they were not in an orchestra pit like they are today.
Above the boxes, La Scala has always had a gallery where people who are not so rich can watch. This is still there today. It is called the loggione. Some people in the loggione, known as the Claque, are known to applaud wildly if they like a singer, or boo loudly if they do not like a singer. During La Scala’s history this has often been because of bribery or blackmail.
La Scala was originally lit with 84 oil lamps mounted on the palcoscenico (ceiling) and another thousand in the rest of theater. In case they ever caught fire, several rooms were filled with hundreds of waterbuckets. Later, oil lamps were replaced by gas lamps. In 1883 electric lights were put in.
The building was renovated in 1907. After that it had 2,800 seats as it does today. In 1943, during World War II, La Scala was badly damaged by bombing. It was rebuilt and reopened on 11 May 1946, with a brilliant concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini, with a soprano solo by Renata Tebaldi.
Many famous operas were first performed at La Scala, including some by Giuseppe Verdi. For several years, however, Verdi did not allow his music to be played here because he did not like the way the orchestra had played it. However the composer later conducted his Requiem there on May 25, 1874, and in 1886 announced that La Scala would host the premiere of his opera Otello. The first performance of his last opera, Falstaff was also given in this theatre.
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 necessary.
There is also a La Scala Museum (Museo Teatrale alla Scala) which has an extraordinary collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents about opera and La Scala's history.
Recently there have been more renovations to La Scala. Some people were worried that it would spoil the historic building, but the opera company were very pleased when the work was done. There was a new stage and lots more room behind the stage. The heavy red carpets were taken away and the sound was better. The seats include monitors so that the audience can follow the words in English or Italian if it is in a foreign language (not Italian).The renovated opera house was opened on 7 December 2004 with the same opera by Salieri that had opened it in 1778. The conductor was Riccardo Muti.
- ↑Branca, Vittorio (1968). Il comune di Cerro Maggiore ai tempi della prima guerra mondiale: Avvenimenti, opere, personaggi dal 1914 al 1925.
- ↑Protonotari, Francesco (1982). Nuova antologia. Direzione della Nuova Antologia.
Other websites[changechange source]
Welcome to this post about one of Milan’s best known icons – La Scala Museum! Here’s all you need to know about our guide to one of Milan’s best museums with a very special tour guide!
People rarely visit museums and points of interest in their own hometowns. I think this statement is probably true worldwide – before I started MondaysInMilan in 2014, there were still many things to do in Milan I never bothered checking out, like the Monumental Cemetery and San Bernardino alle Ossa Church.
Another of these places is Museo Teatrale alla Scala(La Scala Theatre Museum), adjacent to the world-famous opera house. See, I come from a theatre-loving family, and I have been to the theatre itself several times – but I’ve never been into opera. I find it too long, too heavy, too hard to follow.
Also, I never actually visited the museum, highlighting the history of the theatre, from its foundation in the 18th century to the present day.
What is Guido Tour Sharing?
In early September 2019 I was invited to join a tour of La Scala Museum with Guido Tour Sharing, the same tour sharing operator we did a tour of Parco Sempione with.
Guido Tour Sharing was born from the desire of finding a fun, affordable way to discover museums, churches, castles, and other points of interest in the company of a qualified tour guide.
In Italy, tour guides need to pass a very hard exam to get a license. Exams are only held every few years and require years of studying – as a result, once they’re qualified, tour guides charge around €150-200 for a half-day tour, sometimes more.
Guido created a platform to browse and book shared guided tours on offer in Paris and several Italian cities. Guides post their availability and the tours on schedule, including themed tours, based on the individual guide’s interests and academic background.
For instance, our La Scala museum tour (obviously) had an opera focus, and our guide Fabio Tranchida was an opera aficionado and journalist – the perfect person to explore this fascinating museum with.
The Foyer of La Scala Theatre
Our tour began in front of the opera house, still sporting the same elegant, neoclassical look it had in 1778, when it was built.
Construction was commissioned to architect Giuseppe Piermarini following a decree by Austrian empress Maria Theresia, at the time ruling over the city, to replace the former opera house located in Milan’s Palazzo Reale, destroyed by a fire only two years prior.
The theatre was built on the location of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, after which it was named. The museum is accessed through the theatre foyer on the first floor, decorated with columns, chandeliers and busts of famed composers like Puccini and Toscanini.
‘Foyer’ means fireplace in French, and refers to the theatre’s entrance hall, where people gather before a show or in between acts. Traditionally, the foyer was the only place in a theatre with stone walls, meaning the only place where fireplaces could be kept to prevent fire hazards.
La Scala Opera House
The current look of the foyer dates back to 1936. Fabio pointed out that the floor plan of La Scala foyer is still reminiscent of the former church, with two colonnades separating the wide hall into three ‘naves’.
At the centre of the hall, Fabio showed us a model of La Scala after the 2002/2004 renovation, the first one since the reconstruction after World War II.
The reconstruction was overseen by Swiss architect Mario Botta, who planned two ‘towers’ behind the theatre, to house the impressive collection of costumes and sceneries.
In contrast with La Scala’s neoclassical look, the towers look sleek and modern, which attracted considerable criticism. Fabio explained that Botta’s inspiration for the elliptical tower, the most peculiar-looking of the two, was the elliptical dome of nearby San Fedele Church.
Entering the La Scala Theatre
After touring the foyer, there was one more stop to do before entering the actual museum – we had the chance to look at the sumptuous La Scala Theatre interiors.
The inside of the theatre still looks very much the same as 1778, with deep red velvet curtains and seats, plus golden and ivory stucco decorations.
The theatre seats over 2000 people, divided between the parterre, four rows of boxes, and two gallery tiers – the topmost tier is the famous loggione, with standing room only.
When rehearsals are not on, museum visitors are welcome to enter second-row boxes, some of the best seats in the house. La Scala boxes are small private ‘rooms’ accessed through a door, originally rented by wealthy families for the entire season.
I had been in the boxes before, so I was familiar with the (amazing) concept of being able to watch opera in your own little private room – but I had never noticed that each box had another small room right opposite, where servants used to prepare drink and snacks for wealthy theatregoers to be enjoyed during the show.
Fabio also pointed out a few other interesting features – like the huge Murano glass chandelier, donated by Murano glassmakers after WWII, and the unique clock right above the stage, with Roman numerals on a tape moving every 5 minutes.
As amazing as it is, La Scala looked a little weird completely empty, without the chatter of theatregoers, and the expectation when the orchestra takes their place, and the first notes fill the air.
Opera lovers or not, I recommend everyone to visit La Scala for a show, at least once in their lifetime.
Exploring La Scala Museum
However, that day we weren’t at La Scala for the opera. After taking a bit of time in the stalls, Fabio led us towards La Scala Museum, to begin the actual visit.
The museum was quite small, with only 8 rooms filled with objects, paintings, busts, statuettes and more – with not much in terms of descriptions.
If you have a keen interest for theatre, we really recommend visiting La Scala museum with a guide, or else you’ll probably amble aimlessly wondering what’s going on.
Fabio prepared for us a tour with a focus on the ‘divas’ of La Scala, the famous legendary soprano prime donne that drew crowds of admirers to these famed walls.
He also explained that sopranos were not always women – in the 18th century, many lead singers were actually castrato, male singers who were castrated before puberty to keep their voices high.
Each of the rooms in the La Scala theatre is dedicated to a different era in theatre history – starting with Baroque music in the 17th century, all the way through to the second half on the 20th century.
The second room is all about an all-Italian theatre genre – Commedia dell’Arte, a kind of pantomime which saw characters banter and joke on stage, first improvising, then following a script from the times of Carlo Goldoni onwards.
Commedia dell’Arte shows were (and still are) fun and quirky, foolish at times – and a little bit profane – as it could be seen by the pictures and ceramic figurines of Commedia dell’Arte characters we saw in the museum.
The Soprano Divas of La Scala
The theme of the following room was bel canto (meaning ‘beautiful singing’ in Italian), the Italian opera style popular during the first half of the 19th century.
This was the time of some of the greatest opera divas in history, like Giuditta Pasta, Isabella Colbran, and Maria Malibran – muses of famous composers, who wrote now-legendary arias to match their spellbinding voices.
Fabio was a knowledgeable and passionate guide – it was hard to keep track of time and of all the wonderful divas whose timeless voices graced the walls of La Scala.
He told us about the sad death of Maria Malibran, who fell from a horse at the age of 28; about Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis, Donizetti’s muse, who was famous for her performances of ‘mad scenes’; and about Giuseppina Strepponi, Verdi’s wife, who broke her voice after singing Nabucco.
Yet, my favourite story was that of the two Marchisio sisters, one soprano and one contralto, who performed love scenes together – one playing the diva, and the other one en travesti, playing the male hero.
An entire room was dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi, the composer who, perhaps more than any other, defined an entire operatic era at La Scala. He also passed away right next door, at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, and his room is now the hotel’s grandest suite.
No tour about opera divas is complete without mentioning Maria Callas, the great soprano who brought a renaissance of bel canto to La Scala in the mid-20th century.
The last room of the museum has a portrait of her, sitting on a chair, elegant and beautiful, in the simplicity of a black dress and pearl necklace. Right next to her, there’s a painting of Renata Tebaldi, her arch-rival, whose existence I ignored until this tour.
Our shared guided tour of La Scala Museum came to an end in front of Maria Callas’s portrait, but our experience continued in a nearby café, where we all enjoyed sharing our opera and theatre experiences with a nice Milanese aperitivo.
I am a bit of an oddball in a family of opera lovers – I tried, and tried, and tried to enjoy opera, but I always thought it’s not for me. This guided tour uncovered so many of the secrets underlying this unique musical art, that I’m thinking I might just give opera another go.
Who knows – maybe there’s an opera lover inside me!
La Scala Opera House (teatro Alla Scala)
This post was written in collaboration with Guido Tour Sharing. We would like to thank our awesome guide Fabio!