Behind one unassuming facade is hidden one of the biggest tourist attractions in Milan – the Teatro alla Scala, or La Scala, as it is known to Milanese.
One of the world’s leading opera houses was built at the end of the 18th century after a fire destroyed Milan’s Teatro Regio Ducale. Empress Maria Theresa, Duchess of Milan, chose the site of the 15th century church of Santa Maria della Scala as the site for the new opera house, hence the name Teatro alla Scala. During the World War II La Scala was destroyed and had to be reconstructed in 1946.
In the two centuries since La Scala opened, some of the best singers in the world have performed on its stage and the most celebrated works by composers such as Verdi and Bellini premiered here.
The last restoration in 2001 took three years and cost a whopping $67 million and today the opera house’s sumptuous interior leaves anyone visiting it in owe and is famous for its exceptional acoustics and one of the world’s largest stages. Beautiful columns and large mirrors adorn its foyer, the auditorium, is decorated with opulent red velvet, silk and gilded stucco. The huge Bohemian crystal chandelier shines from the ceiling with 365 lights.
Among the most popular tourist attractions in Milan the Opera House gives visitors the opportunity to learn about its history at the Theater Museum that has an excellent collection of costumes, musical instruments, paintings, original musical scores and other theatrical memorabilia.
Opera fans and theater lovers can book tailor-made guided tours to see the La Scala stage, the famous royal box, the prompter’s box and uncover the hidden gems of Milan’s opera house. You can also take a peek at the fascinating Ansaldo Workshops, where production artists design and create the stage sets, costumes, wigs and everything else for the opera and ballet performances.
Photos by: John Picken, Federico Soffici.