Newly Renovated Teatro alla Scala Reopens With Gala Performance

Classic Arts News   Newly Renovated Teatro alla Scala Reopens With Gala Performance
The 226-year-old Teatro alla Scala reopened to acclaim last night, after nearly three years of renovations, with a performance of Salieri's Europa riconosciuta, conducted by Riccardo Muti.

The opening was attended, according to the Associated Press, by such luminaries as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, fashion designer Giorgio Armani, and Sophia Loren. A post-performance VIP reception took place in the converted steel factory that the opera company uses as a costume and scenery warehouse.

The opera was broadcast to the public on video screens in the Galleria, across from La Scala. Screens were also set up in San Vittore prison and other locations around Milan.

The renovation, which cost 61 million euros, includes new red velvet seats and curtains and screens on the back of every seat so that viewers may follow the libretto in different languages. The old marble floors, previously covered by carpet and linoleum, were restored, and the theater's stage machinery was overhauled.

In addition, two towers of quite modern: and, to preservationists, controversial: design were added. These contain offices, dressing rooms, rehearsal space, and storage for sets.

Another change is the elimination of the famous "Callas spot": the acoustical sweet spot on the stage favored by Maria Callas. "The whole stage is now a Callas spot," soprano Anna Kristiina Kaapola, who is sharing the lead role in Europa riconosciuta, told the BBC News. "It's very easy to sing here, you don't have to force or push your voice at all, and of course for me it's a dream."

Tickets for the opening night performance cost, according to the Associated Press, up to $2,691. Half of the performance's tickets were available by invitation only. Some viewers waited in line four days to secure one of a limited number of upper circle seats available for about $67. Many of these tickets were later resold at higher prices.

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