Teatro La Scala
The Teatro La Scala in Milan attracts tourists with great voices, unsurpassed acoustics and the general atmosphere of the capital of the opera stage, and getting to a performance is not difficult.
The Teatro La Scala draws opera lovers of all continents. Great voices and renowned conductors and musicians are featured here. The acoustics are second to none. This is why a visit to La Scala is reason enough in itself to travel to Italy.
History of the La Scala Theater
The theater building opened in 1778. The opening featured an opera, “Acclaimed Europe,” written by the infamous Antonio Salieri. La Scala respects its own history more than historical anecdotes: the same opera was performed when the theater opened after the last restoration in 2004.
The first stage was much smaller than the current one, with most of the audience seated in boxes. The construction was financed by the patrons: the costs were shared by 90 wealthy citizens of Milan.
The stage became world-famous at the beginning of the 19th century, when it began staging operas by G. Rossini. The first opera was “The Touchstone” in 1812, and it was followed by almost all of the composer’s creative “portfolio”. Italian opera continued to live its golden age in this hall: the theater was the first to introduce the public to many works by G. Verdi, G. Donizetti, V. Bellini, and G. Puccini. And at the end of the 19th century La Scala was the foundation of the great conductor Arturo Toscanini.
La Scala is also famous for the voices of Enrico Caruso, Giuseppe De Luca, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Fyodor Chaliapin, Leonid Sobinov. In 1982 the theater obtained its own philharmonic orchestra, which is also led only by international celebrities. The first was Claudio Abbado, then Riccardo Muti.
After the last reconstruction the hall can seat 2030 people, and the voices of the vocalists can still be heard in any part of the hall. Tickets can be purchased for the parterre, the boxes in the four tiers and the gallery, which is two tiers above the boxes. Tickets are sold online for audiences around the world and at the theater box office for those who can get there in time.
During the performance you can buy the program (costs 5-20 EUR, depending on the performance) or read the libretto and subtitles from the electronic board next to the seat. The subtitles are offered in Italian, English and, as a rule, also in the original language if it does not match one of the two named. However, the theater does not guarantee a scoreboard next to each seat.
At intermission here, as in any theater, you can visit the buffet. There are a lot of people who want to eat, you will have to stand in a queue.
La Scala Theater repertoire
The repertoire is based on Italian classics, although it also includes outstanding works by composers of other cultural traditions. In the 2016-2017 season, La Scala Theater in Milan is giving fifteen operas: nine of them are Italian and three are from the German Romantic era.
Italian opera is the first thing that connoisseurs come to La Scala for. On the theater’s website you can see details of each performance, including the names of the director, conductor, and soloists.
In addition to opera performances, La Scala hosts symphony orchestra concerts, ballet evenings, and lectures on the eve of premieres. While audiences go to the opera to hear the great voices, the ballet more often attracts names of choreographers.
In theory, you can visit La Scala Gallery even for 20 EUR, but the cheap tickets are available only to theaters that have time to book them at the start of sales. However, a ticket for 100-300 EUR can be purchased online even a few days before the performance. The website of the theater informs when the sales will start: http://www.teatroallascala.org/. On the site you can register and receive email notification of the start of ticket sales for each performance.
The high price of a ticket to La Scala doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to see everything from your seat. If it’s important to you to not only hear the opera, but also to watch the action, evaluate the view in advance. You can do that through the website, too. At the moment you confirm your ticket purchase, click on the camera icon and you will be shown how you can see the stage from your seat.
Every day unsold tickets arrive at the theater’s box office: getting to a performance just by coming to Milan is realistic. There are no guarantees, though, and seats probably won’t be cheap. There are resellers on duty in front of the theater. Their usual “surcharge” is +50% on the ticket price. Tickets are also sold through travel agencies, most often with a surcharge.
If the important thing for you is simply to go to the theater, and not to see a particular show, opt for a group vocal recital. Tickets for them are considerably cheaper than for an opera. So are tickets to a ballet or symphony concert.
You can also visit the La Scala Theater Museum – for separate tickets, but in the same building. A tour to the Museum of La Scala for adults costs 7 EUR.
In the opera hall (both in the stalls and in the gallery) are not allowed after the start of performances. Only holders of tickets for the boxes have the privilege of arriving late.
The recommended age at which children may visit the theater is 5 years old, although there is no strict ban for younger viewers. But it is necessary to have a separate ticket for each spectator and not to disturb the neighbors. If a child is noisy, he or she will be escorted out into the foyer with an accompanying adult.
Rumors of mandatory evening gowns and tuxedos are exaggerated. The official regulations forbid only shorts and sleeveless shirts, and hint that you should dress with decorum and respect for other spectators. But tuxedos and necklines do indeed abound in the stalls. Regarding hand luggage, the rules are strict. The audience is asked to leave in the checkroom not only umbrellas and hats, but also cameras and cell phones. Smoking is prohibited throughout the theater and eating in the auditorium.
In what city is the theater of La Scala, it is well known: for opera go to Milan.
The theater is located at Via Filodrammatici, 2.
The administration asks visitors to come to the performances and the museum by public transport, as there is always a shortage of parking spaces. The nearest metro stations are Duomo and Cordusio on the first (red) line, or Montenapoleone on the third (yellow) line. Of the ground transport is the bus number 61, streetcars 1 and 2.
La Scala Opera House, Milan: description, repertoire, reviews
Great musicians and conductors, famous opera voices and the best ballet dancers, inimitable productions on the largest stage in Europe – all this is the magnificent and unique Teatro La Scala. It has become a symbol of Her Majesty’s Classical Music.
The history of Milan’s oldest theater
Today the Teatro La Scala is in the old center of Milan in a small square with a monument to Leonardo da Vinci in the middle. Its history goes back a long time…
In the fourteenth century there was a small church of St. Mary, patronized by a noble lady of the wealthy de Scala family.
In 1776, the Royal Ducal Theatre in Milan perished in a major fire. Italy was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Empress Maria Theresa decides to build a new theater. The site was determined – on the site of the dilapidated La Scala church.
Milan waited with bated breath, as 90 city aristocrats allocated an incredible amount of money for the building – a million lire. In just two years, architect Giuseppe Piermarini designed and built a magnificent building.
The interior decoration of the theater
In the construction of the theater the architect applied optical laws for the first time, so from any point of the huge hall the spectator perfectly sees and hears what is happening on the stage.
All the boxes (and there were 194 plus the royal one) were arranged in five tiers, all of them bordered by a gallery where one could buy drinks or play card games. Each box could seat 8-10 people, and there were only two armchairs.
But there were no armchairs in the parterre, and the chairs were placed before the performance. The hall was used to host not only ballet and opera productions, but also carnival and even bullfighting.
The hall was lit by candles and the wax dripped on the spectators’ heads. There was no heating, and ladies were wrapped up in furs. But the interior was stunning with its rich shades of gold, silver and white.
Carriages were served directly to the theater, where there was a carriage entrance.
The La Scala opera house could not boast a huge stage, but its acoustic possibilities were unsurpassed – any sound of a musical instrument or singer was clearly audible throughout the auditorium, although there was no orchestra pit and the musicians were seated on the stage.
The theater quickly became a fashionable place. Some were eager to hear musical innovations, some to be entertained, to play cards, to meet ladies, and to socialize with buddies.
Even the writer Stendhal, who came to Italy, could not resist; he writes in his diary about the La Scala Theater. About it he tells friends in letters, enthusiastically noting the magnificent costumes, the multiple changes of scenery during a single performance, the amazing voices.
A legend is born
The Teatro La Scala opened its doors in August 1778. For this event, A. Salieri specially wrote an opera called Recognized Europe. On the opening day, another opera was also performed and two ballets were staged.
The full operation of the theater required the presence of a troupe. The history of La Scala in Milan is divided into periods depending on which composer or conductor led it and what musical preferences they brought to Milanese society.
The theater lived through the eras of Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Arturo Toscanini. Since 2015, La Scala has been led by Riccardo Chailly, an Italian conductor.
It was La Scala where Italian composers Anfossi, Paiziello, Cimaroso, Guglielmi, Mercadante, Cherubini, and Maira received their first glory. The names of G. Rossini, V. Bellini, G. Donizetti, G. Puccini rocked the world from the halls of the Milan theater. It was at La Scala that their operas were first performed for a demanding Italian audience.
The works of G. Verdi became popular in Europe after their performances at the Milan theater.
A performance at the Milan theater was a sign of worldwide recognition for the singer, musician, dancer, or conductor.
The Second Birth of La Scala
During World War II, the building was badly damaged in bombing raids. Major repairs were required. Antonio Toscanini, the conductor of La Scala, who left for America, sends funds to restore the building. In April 1946, the renovated theater opens its doors, Toscanini once again stands at the conductor’s stand.
Restoration of the theater
But time passed, the premises dilapidated, the equipment no longer met modern requirements. In 2001 the building was closed for renovation. But performances didn’t stop; they were moved to the stage of the Teatro Arcimboldi.
From 2002 to 2004 work continued. What was done:
- The stage was enlarged threefold; now 800 performers are safely accommodated on it;
- state-of-the-art computer equipment was installed for the orchestra and the sets;
- Storage rooms, offices, make-up rooms were enlarged;
- additional buildings were added to the theater.
Costumes and decorations are created in Ansaldo’s dedicated workshops, where famous costumes and props from past productions are also kept.
The Swiss architect Mario Botta was in charge of the project, and managed to renovate the theater, preserving its stately classical style.
The auditorium now combines ancient luxury with modern comfort. The extraordinary acoustics of the auditorium have been carefully preserved, and the performers can be heard even without amplification.
The renewed La Scala opened on December 7, 2004 with the opera La Recognizione Europa.
Auditorium and acoustics
How can La Scala’s auditorium be described in two words? Luxury and comfort.
The velvet armchairs for 2015 people are now equipped with electronic devices, on the scoreboard of which there are captions in 3 languages. The walls are gilded and decorated with stucco. Huge mirrors enhance the light.
While waiting for a performance, you can stroll in the foyer, where there are sculptures of famous composers.
Stars at La Scala
The theater in Milan is the singer’s place of recognition. It is an honor to perform on the stage of La Scala. T. Ruffo, T. Scipa, G. Benzanzoni, de Luca, M. Caniglia, B. Gigli, M. Del Monaco, F. Corelli, E. Caruso, P. Domingo and many others have sung here.
Of the Russian singers, Fyodor Chaliapin and Leonid Sobinov captivated the Italian public.
Beautiful women’s voices in the XIX century replaced the castrati singers, and in the XX century the world fame received Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. Performances by Soviet singer Elena Obraztsova were met with incredible applause.
Children of La Scala
The Philharmonic Orchestra is created at the theater in the mid-20th century. It gives separate performances on the stage of “La Scala”.
In 1955, opens “Piccola Scala” – a branch of the famous Milan theater, where in a small hall with half a thousand seats you can see and hear the music of old composers, performed by a chamber orchestra. Works by new composers are also performed here.
What’s in the theater’s repertoire
Now at the Teatro La Scala, every music lover will find a suitable piece for themselves. The repertoire includes the best-known classical works by Italian, French, German, and Russian composers: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Bellini, Debussy, Mozart, Wagner, Mussorsky, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, Gounod and others.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, La Scala’s playbill depended on the season. In spring, summer and fall the theater performed serious operatic works, and there were even dramatic and puppet productions. During Carnival, the theater delighted with ballet and light, cheerful operas.
The season now begins on December 7 and ends in November. Usually the schedule alternates between operas and ballets, the symphony orchestra performs regularly, and children’s performances are given.
These days, La Scala offers not only traditional classical works, but also original author’s productions of well-known operas and ballets, as well as bold and controversial innovative plays.
How to book tickets and their prices
It would seem that tickets to the world’s most famous opera house cannot be cheap. However, the cheapest ticket for an opera costs 11 euros, for a ballet – 5, for a symphony orchestra performance – 6.5. Any tourist who sees a performance from the gallery can afford such a ticket.
Of course, there are not many of these tickets, so you must take care of them in advance by ordering on the website of the theater or in the theater reservation service. Another option is to go to an authorized point of sale or theater box offices located throughout the city.
However, it is possible to buy a ticket to La Scala in Milan and a couple of hours before the performance, resellers are waiting in the theater square. But in this case you should be prepared for very expensive tickets:
- for the opera, up to 2,000 euros;
- for the ballet, up to 250 euros;
- for a concert, up to 90 euros.
Facts about La Scala’s history
The La Scala Theater was the first in Europe to have electricity. The central chandelier had 365 bulbs.
In 1964, La Scala performed in Moscow for the first time on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater, while the Bolshoi company toured in Milan.
In 2008, Svetlana Zakharova, a Russian ballerina, was awarded the title “star” for the first time.
Interesting things about the theater
Conductor Arturo Toscanini changed the rules for visiting the theater. He forbade ladies to sit in huge fancy hats because they blocked the view of other spectators. Toscanini changed the program: ballet performances were no longer shown before the opera. He also introduced the rule that the curtain should not be pulled up to open the stage, but pulled apart – only then can the performers be seen in their entirety.
At the theater “La Scala” you will not come in jeans or a sweater. Men are allowed only in a suit with a tie, preferably a tuxedo. Women are allowed in long evening gowns. Furs and diamonds are welcome!
If you lose your ticket don’t worry – at the box-office you will get a new one an hour before the performance if you keep the receipt.
Your ticket to the theater can not give anyone else – it is named.
Children from 5 years of age may be brought to the theater. But if the child disturbs the rest of the audience, it will be necessary to see the play in the foyer, where there are screens on which the performance is broadcast.
Even if you have not been to a performance of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, you can visit this famous building by going to the theater museum, which is located on the 2nd floor.
The 10 rooms showcase 200 years of theatrical history:
- The stories of the famous composers whose works have been performed within these walls;
- instruments of great musicians, including the baton of Antonio Toscanini and the piano of Franz Liszt;
- sumptuous costumes;
- documents and posters;
- composer G. Verdi’s desk and his death mask.
A ticket costs about 5 euros. From the museum, walk through the foyer to the lodge, where you can see the entire legendary auditorium.
How to get to the La Scala Theater
The address of the Teatro La Scala in Milan is Via Filodrammatici, 2.
To get there you can:
- By streetcar 1 and 2 to the Manzoni Scala stop;
- by bus #61;
- By subway, using the red or yellow line, get off at Duomo station.
Better yet, take a cab to arrive on time and enjoy a refined evening.