La Scala, or Teatro alla Scala in Italian, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Its sober and elegant exterior never fails to surprise those that visit it for the first time.
The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este commissioned the construction of a new Ducal Theatre when a fire burnt down the previous theatre in 1776. The opera house was built on the site where the former site of the Church Santa Maria alla Scala, hence the name of the Teatro alla Scala.
Like other theatres of the same period, La Scala also housed a casino during its early years. In 1943, during World War II, the theatre was badly damaged by bombing. It was reconstructed three years later. In 2002, the Opera House was closed for two years while it was renovated and opened in November 2004 with an opening performance of Europa riconosciuta by Antonio Salieri, which is the same opera that was performed when the theatre was inaugurated in 1778. Many famous operas have had their first production in La Scala, such as Othello, Nabucco by Verdi or Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.
During its early years, the composer Giuseppe Verdi did not want his work to be represented in the Teatro alla Scala because he was convinced that the orchestra modified his compositions. Nevertheless, he then established a very close relationship with the Opera House.
The Theatre Museum contains a large collection of paintings, busts, costumes and several other objects related to the world of opera and theatre. The visit includes discovering the theatre’s grand foyer, an elegant and sparsely decorated hall. Then you will be taken to the small box seats covered in red satin, where the high society enjoyed and still enjoys the various operas and ballets performed in La Scala. The enormous auditorium is made of wood and covered in red velvet, adorned with golden coloured stuccos. The stage is lit by a huge Bohemian crystal chandelier with 383 bulbs.