Any tourist, even before his foot sets foot on Italian soil, plans what sights he would like to visit. Naturally, each person has his own tastes and preferences, however, some memorable places are simply impossible to ignore. One of the hallmarks of Italy in general, and Milan in particular, is the mecca of opera art - La Scala Theater.
The history of Teatro La Scala is full of mysteries and incredible turns. Even the name of the theater is not as simple as it seems at first glance. The Italian term "scala" in translation means "staircase", however, not at all such a prosaic subject inspired its creators.
The theater building was erected on the site of the old Milanese church named after Santa Maria della Scala. Dated in the second half of the 14th century, this church had its patroness - Beatrice Regina from a noble family della Scala.
In February 1776, a tragic accident led to a fire engulfing the Royal Ducal Theater. The idea of creating a new theater was favorably received by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. She wanted Milan to retain the glory of the capital of Italian opera.
Developed an architectural project Giuseppe Piermarini, and in the middle of 1776 a grandiose construction was launched. All work, from clearing the territory to finishing with the final gloss, took 2 years. The exceptional merit of the distinguished architect and his team was the elegant neoclassical style of the building, equipped with a special portal for feeding horse-drawn carriages. And the stunning acoustics of the hall has become a legend for centuries.
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Theater of opera
The opera hall was executed in the form of a huge horseshoe (100 x 38 m), equipped with a classic tiered model of the location of the boxes (5 tiers and almost two hundred boxes). Considering that each box could accommodate up to 10 visitors, the total capacity of the theater was impressive.
The external severity of the theater building emphasized the richness and beauty of the interior. The decoration, done in light and warm golden colors, was striking in its grace.
Meanwhile, the interior of the building provided for a number of entertainments for an elegant public, such as gambling rooms and buffets.
The most notable Italian families, imbued with love for the theater, have invested an impressive amount of about a million lire to create La Scala.
And for the greater pleasure of the regulars, not only chamber performances took place in the theater, but also such extravagant events as bullfighting and large gambling gatherings. In fact, the theater becomes the center of the secular and cultural life of the country.
The path to the glory of the most famous opera house, La Scala, began on August 3, 1778. The event was magnificently framed and marked by the premiere of the opera "Recognized Europe". A. Salieri specially created his work for this important day for the European theater world. Following the opera, several ballet performances were organized. The invariably full hall showed that the public favors the new theater, regardless of classes and ranks.
The term "opera house" itself implied the presence of a permanent troupe, opera vocalists, their own orchestra, conductor and, of course, a director.
Since opera was at the forefront in Teatro La Scala, its activity was divided into several seasons - spring, summer, autumn and the carnival season. The first three seasons contained serious works, while the carnival season was interspersed with light scenes with theatrical productions and ballet.
At the beginning of the 19th century, a significant part of the della Scala repertoire was composed by the works of the great master of Belcanto - Rossini. It was he who introduced the fashion for multifaceted vocal technique and opera-series (serious opera). The debut of Gioacchino Antonio Rossini on the stage of La Scala was the opera Proving Stone. Over the next 13 years, the theater sounded: Aureliano in Palmyra, Lake Virgin, Turk in Italy, Cinderella, Barber of Seville, Othello.
Beginning in 1822, the repertoire of the theater was replenished with the works of Bellini and Donizetti. In the center of the productions were the famous opera divas - M. Malibran, J. Pasta, and both Grisi sisters. The creative union of composers and the talent of the performers doomed each new production to success. Until 1850, the opera series and opera buffa shone like diamonds in the walls of della Scala - Anna Boleyn, Lucretia Borgia, Favoritka, Linda di Chamuni, Daughter of the regiment authored by Donizetti. And also the best works of Bellini - Capuleti and Montecchi, Somnambulist, Beatrice di Tenda, Puritan.
At one time, the brilliance of Italian opera and the lavish social events held at Della Scala turned the head of the English poet Byron, the French writer Stendhal and made an indelible impression on the Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka. The acquaintance of the latter with the composers Bellini and Donizetti greatly influenced Glinka's musical views, helped him become a full-fledged master of the musical staff. Subsequently, Glinka will write his best works in the Italian style.
With the arrival of the masterly Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi in La Scala, the Italian opera becomes the main art of the country and even Europe. In addition to purely aesthetic pleasure, Italians received an emotional message for the unity of the nation, a call to free themselves from the power of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Verdi skillfully masked the revolutionary impulses in the historical plots of his works, but the title of "maestro of the revolution" was firmly entrenched in him. His pen belongs to Jeanne D'Arc, Oberto, Count di San Bonifacio, Nabucco, Falstaff. Verdi's work was a resounding success and transformed the essence of the theater. Having rejected lightness and fun, the viewer listened to the fiery speeches of the true patriot of his country.
The appearance of the young Arturo Toscanini in La Scala is both an incredible combination of circumstances and fate. The former conductor of the theater orchestra did not meet the demands of the high-class public and was expelled with shame. Then they invited Toscanini to the console, who, despite his 20 years, became famous for performing the opera Aida. Expressive and charismatic, Toscanini effortlessly won the love of theatrical theatergoers.
Arturo Toscanini becomes the conductor and art director of the opera theater, which predetermined big changes in the life of della Scala. The maestro’s ebullient activity affected everything from lifting the curtain - not horizontally upwards, but moving vertically, to take the hats to the wardrobe to the obligatory rule to guarantee a good view for spectators sitting in the back rows of the stalls.
Based on the creative heritage of Giuseppe Verdi, Toscanini constantly worked on updating the theater repertoire. It was his idea to turn to the opera created by Robert Wagner. In addition, the repertoire of the orchestra has expanded significantly due to symphonic works. And only a clash with the new Italian government, which adheres to the national socialist views, forces Toscanini to leave La Scala and move to the United States.
Clouds of political intrigue were gathering more and more over Europe, they did not pass over Italy. In 1943, during the Second World War, the famous La Scala opera house was destroyed. However, the troupe continues to rehearse in difficult military conditions and give performances on the stage of other institutions. The restless Toscanini, even abroad, does not cease to worry about her brainchild.
In 1945, after the liberation of Italy, Tuscany contacted the city of Milan and sent them a million lire for the reconstruction of the theater.
Like the Phoenix bird, in 1946, La Scala rises from the ashes of war to restore the Italians love of opera, thirst for life. Naturally, Arturo Toscanini again became the master of the orchestra and the strict genius of the theater. The post-war decline affected the cast of the troupe; in subsequent years, della Scala turned into a forge of theatrical talents.
In 1948, Guido Cantelli made his debut as a conductor in the walls of the opera house. The lively manner of managing the orchestra, passion and undoubted talent were appreciated by Toscanini. In his incomplete 20, Cantelli organizes a cycle of opera performances on the works of Wagner and Verdi, gives a number of joint concerts with other respected maestros - Herbert von Karayan, Dmitry Mitroupolos and Bruno Walter.
In addition to the drama written by composers, serious passions begin to boil on the stage of La Scala - the greatest opera divas of the 20th century, Maria Callas and Renata Tybaldi fight for the title of prima. The difficult character of Kallas makes her a little popular among the members of the troupe, however, the directors like the stunning artistry of the singer. In 1955, Maria Callas performs the leading part in the opera by J. Verdi La Traviata. Interpretation of the work by director Visconti helped Callas to become the goddess of opera, to become the face of La Scala.
At the dawn of 1957, Arturo Toscanini died, a man who did so much for della Scala. Until 1965, various musical figures took the place of the conductor, but for a long time no one took root. Claudio Abaddo, who conducted the first time at the Milan Opera House, showed an interesting presentation of material and great potential. He owns the following successful productions - the Barber of Seville, Italian in Algeria, Cinderella, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra and other works. In 1972, Abaddo became the chief conductor of La Scala. At the same time, they give a lot of symphony concerts in the opera, they stage ballet with the involvement of Italian and foreign stars.
Artists performing in La Scala
In the second half of the 20th century, the cradle of the opera tends to become closer to the public. The stars of world opera - Enrico Caruso, Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballe, Luciano Pavarotti, as well as Russian voices - Fedor Chaliapin, Tamara Milashkina, Leonid Sobinov, ballerina Svetlana Zakharova, ballet dancer Rudolf Nuriev, performed in the walls of della Scala. In parallel with this, the theater troupe regularly tours throughout Europe, visited the USA and Canada.
The modern look of La Scala
In the postwar years, Teatro della Scala survived several reconstructions. The last of them was begun in 2001 by the architect Mario Botta and lasted until 2004. In particular, the main stage of the theater was redesigned, which can now accommodate up to three acts simultaneously. In addition to construction work and restoration of interior interiors, the theater had a reduced total number of seats for spectators. Modern fire safety requirements left at the mercy of spectators 2030 seats. The horseshoe of the hall stretched along the royal box, stalls and five tiers of boxes. True connoisseurs of the opera prefer to settle in galleries, where, in their opinion, the best acoustics are observed.
Today, like several centuries ago, the La Scala opera house begins its season on December 7, the feast of St. Ambrose, the patron saint of the city of Milan. Throughout the winter, until June, the theater is the temple of the opera. In autumn, the time for symphonic concerts begins, which is given by the Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1982. In addition, the theater has its own choir and ballet troupe.
The theater’s modern repertoire is designed for the most diverse tastes, here you can go on to stage classics - Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Bellini, Rossini, Guno, Tchaikovsky, Musorsky, Donizetti. However, new trends are also not alien to theater directors, fashionable novelties and an alternative reading of famous works are regularly present in the repertoire of La Scala.
Cost and order tickets
The cost of tickets to La Scala ranges from 29 to several hundred euros. Places with good visibility will cost a lot of money. The most valuable places in the stalls, in the gallery, the front rows in the boxes. On the opening day of the season, the most striking and expected action takes place, which you can look at only by laying out an impressive amount. Booking and ordering tickets is carried out using the online theater system or directly in Milan. However, La Scala's opera is valued above all earthly riches; tickets should be taken care of in advance.Find a hotel near the Teatro alla Scala
The address of the La Scala Theater is Via Filodrammatici, 2 (Via Filodrammatici, 2).
The nearest metro station is Dante Cordusio.
La Scala Theater official website in English www.teatroallascala.org
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La Scala Museum
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that at della Scala there is a museum filled with beautiful, amazing and wonderful things that are directly related to the life of the theater. On the walls of the museum you can see portraits of famous opera divas. Especially popular is the canvas, which depicts J. Pasta in the costume of Anna Boleyn, written by K. Bryullov. In addition, the exhibition includes chest busts of several prominent composers, the death mask of J. Verdi, mock-ups to the most outstanding productions, and other memorable exhibits. A ticket to the La Scala Theater Museum costs 6 euros.
Attractions near the La Scala Theater
A leisurely walk from the walls of the theater along the mosaic-lined avenue leads to the square where the Duomo Cathedral of Milan is located. The Gothic medieval building amazes with lancet peaks of the roofs and rich decoration. Another interesting attraction located nearby is a monument to the Italian inventor, artist and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci.