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Teatro alla Scala, Milan

Piazza della Scala
Italy 20121
Tel: 39 02 7200 3744
view web site ›'s insider take:

After a three-year, $70-million renovation, the world's most famous neoclassical opera house reopened in December 2004 complete with two controversial new rooftop structures designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, and some vastly improved stage machinery. Thankfully, the opulent auditorium has not been reworked, only painstakingly restored: Its tiers of ornate gilt boxes, magenta velvet seats, and elaborately carved ceiling look much as they did when the present building was inaugurated in 1778. A long-running behind-the-scenes power struggle, which culminated in 2005 with the resignation of longtime artistic director Riccardo Muti, has not dampened the locals' passion for their temple of bel canto, and it's well-nigh impossible to get tickets for the ultradressy opening night of the season on December 7 (book well in advance the rest of the year, too, if you want to be sure of a good seat). La Scala's loggionisti—the serious, not particularly well heeled opera buffs who occupy the upper-gallery seats—can be ferocious: Boos from the gallery famously prompted tenor Roberto Alagna to stride offstage during a performance of Aida in December 2006. Housed in a series of neoclassical rooms, the Museo Teatrale alla Scala consists of a rather specialized collection of vintage musical instruments, scores, and memorabilia relating to famous composers and singers associated with the opera house. But it also allows visitors a glimpse into the auditorium from one of the boxes—a privilege that is suspended only on rehearsal days.

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