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Italian Opera Take 1: La Scala, Milan

Posted on July 10th, 2006 filed in travel articles    |   

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La Scala, arguably the most famous and prestigious opera theater, is an upscale venue located at the Piazza Del Scala, at the heart of Milan within close proximity to the Galleria and Duomo, two of Milan’s most famous landmarks. Best way to reach the theatre is via the Metro Duomo station. Italians take their opera here very seriously as evidenced by the Gucci, Armani and other super expensive formal dress code and the ubiquitous high heels, full makeup and jewelry.

The performance usually starts at 8 pm, unless the showing is exceptionally long when it would start earlier (All Scala performances must end before midnight). Late arrivals are denied entry until the intermission. Ushers, however, at their discretion, may allow late arrivals to watch the show while standing at the theater entrance irrespective of what seats the tickets are actually for. Around 30 minutes later, and based on availability, tardy folks would be seated on one of the top level cubicles, again until the intermission. No exceptions are ever made (Richard Burton was reportedly denied entry once when he failed to arrive on time).

The opera season at La Scala runs from December till mid July. Ticket prices normally range from 40-150 euros each. On the day of a certain performance, discounted tickets can be purchased from the Duomo Metro station. I got two tickets once at 35% off and they were for third row central seats.

La Scala was renovated in 2004 and one of the major upgrades is the installation of the Electronic Libretto System (ELS), which translates into seats having monitors on their back showing English and Italian versions of the opera libretti this allowing the audience to better enjoy the opera when not in their native language. This of course can be turned off on an individual basis if felt unneeded.

The theatre itself is lavishly decorated and can accomodate up to 3000 seats. An opera museum is attached and sports a priceless collection of costumes, books, instruments, paintings, and set designs that mostly document the history of the opera and La Scala.

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