La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala (New Royal-Ducal Theatre alla Scala). The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta.
Most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy (Italian: Accademia Teatro alla Scala), which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.
The building, designed by Giuseppe Piermarini and inaugurated in 1778, was built on the ashes of the previous Ducal Theater, destroyed by fire in 1776; it owes its name to the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, demolished to make room for the New Royal Ducal Teatro alla Scala inaugurated on August 3, 1778, under the then reign of Maria Theresa of Austria, with Europe recognized composed for the occasion by Antonio Salieri.
Starting from the year of foundation, it is the seat of the homonymous choir, of the orchestra, of the corps de ballet, and since 1982 also of the Philharmonic. The theater complex is located in the square of the same name, flanked by the Ricordi Casino, now home to the La Scala Theater Museum.
La Scala Theatre was founded in 1778 and soon became the home of the great Italian composers: Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini are just some of the musicians who presented the premieres of their operas here.
In the 20th century the prestige of La Scala was assured by great conductors. After Toscanini, masters such as Victor de Sabata, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim and today Riccardo Chailly preserve and enrich the tradition. The Scala stage has seen the stars of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo shine on, followed today by Anna Netrebko, Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Florez and Francesco Meli.
At La Scala, Carla Fracci and Rudolf Nureev, Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle danced. La Scala’s productions were conceived by stage directors such as Giorgio Strehler and Luca Ronconi, Bob Wilson and Robert Carsen, while designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani designed the costumes.
The first structures assigned to the opera in Milan were the court theaters that took turns in the courtyard of Palazzo Reale: a first hall named after Margherita of Austria-Styria, wife of Philip III of Spain, erected in 1598 and destroyed by fire January 5, 1708 and the Royal Ducal Theater, built nine years later at the expense of the Milanese nobility on a project by Gian Domenico Barbieri.
For the stage of these theaters, works by important composers were commissioned, including: Nicola Porpora (Siface), Tomaso Albinoni (The fortress on trial), Christoph Willibald Gluck (Artaxerxes, Demofoonte, Sofonisba, Ippolito), Josef Mysliveček (Il gran Tamerlano), Giovanni Paisiello (Sismano nel Mogol, Andromeda), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Mithridates, king of Pontus, Ascanio in Alba,Lucio Silla).
The new Teatro Regio Ducal
«To my surprise I saw that they were demolishing a church to make way for a theater»
The Teatro alla Scala was built in accordance with a decree of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, issued at the request of Milanese patrician families, headed by Count Giangiacomo Durini of Monza. palchettiste of the “Regio Ducale”, the old Milanese court theater which Durini was the superintendent of, destroyed in a fire that broke out on 26 February 1776.. The same families undertook to bear the costs for the construction of the new theater in exchange for the renewal of the ownership of the stages. The project was entrusted to the famous architect Giuseppe Piermarini, who also provided for the design of the “Interinale Theater”, a temporary structure built at thechurch of San Giovanni in Conca, and of the Teatro della Cannobiana, with a plan very similar to that of the Scala, but in a reduced size, dedicated to more “popular” shows. The pictorial decoration was made by Giuseppe Levati and Giuseppe Reina. Domenico Riccardi instead painted the curtain, representative, it seems on Parini’s suggestion, the ” Parnaso “.
The theater was built in place of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, from which it took its name (the church began to turn its name from its founder, Regina della Scala, the dynasty of the Scala family of Verona), whose demolition work began on August 5, 1776; the first acoustic tests took place on May 28, 1778 and on August 3, in the presence of the governor of Milan, Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg-Este, Maria Beatrice d’Este, Count Carlo Giuseppe di Firmian and Duke Francesco III d’Este, the 3,000-seat “New Regal Ducal Teatro alla Scala” was inaugurated with the first ever performance of Salieri’s recognized Europe. The libretto, the work of the abbot Mattia Verazzi, was designed to give space to arias full of virtuosity, and is characterized by the numerous duets, trio and complex final acts.
On the evening of August 3, Pietro Verri was also among the spectators, who wrote to his brother Alessandro, at that time in Rome: “The pump of clothes is sum, the extras populate the stage of more than a hundred figures and do their duty… the eyes are always busy”. Particularly suggestive was the beginning in medias res, “while you are expecting it when you start, listen to thunder, then a burst of lightning and this is the signal for the orchestra to begin the overture, at the moment the curtain, you see a stormy sea ». The intervals were gladdened by the dances Pafio and Mirra, or by I Prisoners of Cyprus, music by Salieri, choreography by Claudio Legrand, and Apollo placated, music by Luigi de Baillou, choreography by Giuseppe Canziani.
At the time, the theater was not only a place of entertainment: the stalls were often used for dancing, the stages were used by the owners to receive guests, eat and manage their social life, in the basement and in another space at the the fifth order of boxes was gambling (among the various games there is also roulette, introduced by the impresario Domenico Barbaja in 1805). Since 1788 it was in fact strictly forbidden to play in the city, with the only exception of theaters in time of entertainment.
During the years of Austrian and French domination, La Scala was financed, in addition to the income from the game, by the same families who had wanted to build the theater and retained its ownership through the shares of the stages. While the first three orders remained the property of the aristocracy for many years, the fourth and fifth were mostly occupied by the upper middle class, which from the nineteenth century onwards made a massive entrance into the theater. In the stalls, and even more in the gallery, there is a mixed audience of soldiers, young aristocrats, bourgeois, artisans.
The ownership of the management remained mainly in the hands of exponents of the Milanese nobility (the year of the inauguration the “associated Knights” were Count Ercole Castelbarco, the Marquis Giacomo Fagnani, the Marquis Bartolomeo Calderara and Prince Antonio Menafoglio of Rocca Sinibalda), but the actual management was almost always entrusted to professional impresarios such as Angelo Petracchi (1816-20), Domenico Barbaja (1826-32), Bartolomeo Merelli (1836-50), the brothers Ercole and Luciano Marzi (1857- 1861).
The main problem in organizing the seasons was to keep the interest of the spectators on, very often distracted, on the stages, in other affairs, or disturbed in listening to the music from the buzz coming from the gaming tables accessible from noon to evening.
On 1st September 1778 the first absolute of Troia destroyed by Michele Mortellari takes place. Since the pomp of Europe recognized in the long run economically unsustainable, already in the second year of activity space was given to the opera buffa, of which the greatest performer, the bass Francesco Benucci, often trod the Scaliger scenes. On January 1, 1779 was the first overall Venus in Cyprus of Felice Alessandri, 30 January Cleopatra of Pasquale Anfossi and December 26 Armidaby Josef Myslivecek with Caterina Gabrielli, Luigi Marchesi and Valentin Adamberger. On February 3, 1781 there was the inauguration, late for the death of Maria Teresa of Austria, with the world premiere of Antigono by Luigi Gatti, on October 1 of Il vecchio geloso di Alessandri, on December 26 of the Olympiad by Francesco Bianchi on 14 September 1782 by Between the two litigants has the third of Giuseppe Sarti with Nancy Storaceand Benucci, on December 26 in La Circe by Domenico Cimarosa with Giacomo David and on January 8, 1783 in L’Idalide or both La vergine del sole by Sarti.
The castrati, sopranists and contraltists had great success at La Scala, among whom we can remember Gaspare Pacchierotti, Asterio in the opening work, Luigi Marchesi, Girolamo Crescentini, Giovanni Battista Velluti a few decades later replaced by the first women (between the first, the most famousAdriana Ferraresi Del Bene, Teresa Saporiti, Giuseppina Grassini, Teresa Bertinotti-Radicati, Storace, Teresa Belloc-Giorgi, Angelica Catalani, Brigida Giorgi Banti, Isabella Colbran, Marietta Marcolini, Elisabetta Gafforini, Carolina Bassi, Elisabetta Manfredini, Adelaide Tosi, Benedetta Rosmunda Pisaroni, Isabella Fabbrica, Brigida Lorenzani, Henriette Méric-Lalande, Carolina Ungher,Giuditta Grisi, Giulia Grisi, Clorinda Corradi, Giuditta Pasta, Marietta Brambilla, Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis, Maria Malibran and Eugenia Tadolini). As for composers, in addition to Salieri, perhaps imposed from above and in any case rarely called, we can remember in these early years Domenico Cimarosa, Giovanni Paisiello, Nicola Antonio Zingarelli, Luigi Cherubini, Ferdinando Paër, Johann Simon Mayr, Gioachino Rossini, Giacomo Meyerbeer.
On December 26, 1787 the first “argantas” (a type of lamp) were introduced, on February 20, 1790 the theater was closed for the death of Emperor Joseph II of Habsburg-Lorraine, on March 1, 1792 for the death of the emperor Leopold II of Habsburg-Lorraine, on May 15, 1796 the first of Chant de guerre de l’armée du Rhin (La Marseillaise) by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle took place, on November 23, 1797 the Cisalpine Republic forbids the encore of the opera arias at the Theater [no source ]and on March 24,1799theDirectoryabolished theRoyal Box.
During the spring and summer of 1807, the seasons were transferred to the Canobbiana due to important renovations of the internal decorations, redesigned according to the neoclassical taste while in 1814, following the demolition of some buildings including the convent of San Giuseppe, the stage was enlarged according to the project of Luigi Canonica.
A large chandelier with eighty-four oil lamps, designed by the scenographer Alessandro Sanquirico, was hung in the center of the ceiling in 1823. The reactions were contrasting: those who believed that the chandelier illuminated the hall too much raised their voice against the supporters of innovation, allowing prying eyes to penetrate the intimacy of the stages.
On September 7, 1811, the success of I pretendenti deluso by Giuseppe Mosca with Marietta Marcolini and Claudio Bonoldi took place. From September 1812 with the success of Rossini ‘s La pietra del paragone directed by Alessandro Rolla with Marcolini and Filippo Galli (bass), La Scala became the place dedicated to the representation of Italian Melodrama to this day.
On 28 October, 12 November and 19 November 1813 Niccolò Paganini holds violin concerts there and on 29 October the success of the premiere of Le Streghe di Paganini takes place. On 16 June 1815, 5 and 7 March 1816 he held Paganini concerts. On 2 and 5 February 1816 the violinist Charles Philippe Lafont gives concerts. On 11 March 1816 Paganini and Lafont perform music by Rodolphe Kreutzer in concert. On September 29, 1816 Louis Spohr performed the world premiere of his Concerto n. 8 op. 47 In mode of scene sung in A minor for violin and orchestra.
In 1817 the success of the premiere of Rossini ‘s La gazza ladra directed by Rolla with Teresa Belloc-Giorgi and Galli and in 1820 by Vallace or The Scottish hero by Giovanni Pacini with Carolina Bassi and Claudio Bonoldi and Margherita d’Anjou by Giacomo Meyerbeer with Nicola Tacchinardi and Nicolas Levasseur.
On 1 April 1821 the violinist Rolla gives a concert.
In the 1820s the works of Saverio Mercadante, Gaetano Donizetti (in October 1822 with Chiara and Serafina) and above all the Sicilian Vincenzo Bellini (in October 1827 with the success of Il pirata con Giovanni Battista Rubini, Henriette Méric -Lalande and Antonio Tamburini directed by Vincenzo Lavigna), on which Barbaja will focus on over the years of its management. However, the “hidden direction” of the Ricordi publisher is perceptiblewhich, by virtue of his privilege as a copyist first, then a publisher, of the works represented at La Scala, as well as the background of the manuscripts of the theater purchased in 1825, strongly influenced the choice of composers who were commissioned to shoot and new productions.
In 1828 there was the success of the première of I cavalieri di Valenza by Pacini with Méric-Lalande and Carolina Ungher, in 1829 by La aliera di Bellini with Méric-Lalande, Ungher, Domenico Reina and Tamburini directed by Rolla, in 1833 by Caterina di Guisa by Carlo Coccia with Adelaide Tosi, Isabella Fabbrica and Reina directed by Rolla and in 1838 by La solitaria delle Asturie di Coccia directed by Eugenio Cavallini.
In 1830, the bands between the orders between the boxes were decorated, again on the advice of Sanquirico, with golden reliefs and Francesco Hayez created a new decoration of the vault of the hall, still visible in 1875, when it was replaced by a grisaille decoration. In 1835, on the project of the architect Pietro Pestagalli, two small lateral bodies were added to the facade surmounted by terraces.
The Kaiserhymne (the anthem of the Lombard-Veneto Kingdom) had its first at La Scala in 1838, in the presence of Ferdinand I of Habsburg and Maria Anna of Savoy.
The young Verdi at La Scala
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) made his debut at La Scala in November 1839 with Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio with Mary Shaw, Lorenzo Salvi and Ignazio Marini directed by Eugenio Cavallini, Donizetti-style work, but with some of its dramatic peculiarities that pleased to the public, decreeing a good success. Given the outcome of Oberto, the impresario Merelli commissioned him the comedy Un giorno di Regno, which went on stage with disastrous results. It was still Merelli who convinced him not to abandon the lyric, personally delivering him a libretto of biblical subject, the Nabucco, written by Temistocle Solera. The work was staged on March 9, 1842 and despite an initial lukewarm welcome, starting from the resumption of August 13, the success was this time triumphant thanks also to the strong patriotic sentiment that arouses in the city where the nascent Risorgimento was fermenting, strengthening the popularity of melodrama by identifying its image with La Scala.
The titles of the early Scaliger period of the composer from Busseto such as I Lombardi at the first crusade and Giovanna d’Arco, in addition to those already mentioned, fascinated the public, now also made up of bourgeois.
Precisely on the occasion of the staging of the Joan of Arc, in 1845, the discontent that arose due to the general lack of consideration of the wishes of the composers in the face of the needs, especially economic, of the Scaliger impresarios, prompted Verdi to give up for over twenty years on the stage that launched it.
Verdi’s years of exile in Verona were not among the happiest for the theater. Apart from some titles (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Semiramide, La Cenerentola and Guglielmo Tell), Rossini’s works tend to thin out; however, the presence of Bellini, who disappeared already in 1835, and Donizetti is constant. The last work composed by Mercadante for La Scala, The Saracen slave, goes unnoticed, and also the previous works of the Altamura composer disappear from the posters. Alongside the works composed by Verdi for the other theaters in Europe, the productions of Giacomo Meyerbeer also achieved success.
On 7 May 1841 there is a concert by cellist Alfredo Piatti, on 7 December a piano concert by Sigismond Thalberg and on 25 November 1845 the violinist Antonio Bazzini. On 19 March 1847, the success of the world premiere of Velleda by Carlo Boniforti with Eugenia Tadolini took place and on 8 February 1848 by Giovanna di Fiandra di Boniforti with Tadolini and Raffaele Mirate.
La Scala after the unification of Italy
After the retreat of the Austrians (1859), the activity resumed with Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor: the recitation of August 9 was also attended by King Vittorio Emanuele II. Following the unification of Italy, the Municipality replaced the Austrian government in the provision of theater grants.
In 1860, on the occasion of the opening night of the Carnival and Lent season, the new system of gas lights for the Sanquirico chandelier was inaugurated. In 1883, the electrical lighting system was completed with the connection to the nearby Santa Radegonda power station.
In the years immediately following, some experiments were attempted, mostly unsuccessful: The Flemish refugees by Franco Faccio on a libretto by Emilio Praga in 1863, an anti-Verdian manifesto that proposed the abandonment of traditional opera formulas, and Mephistopheles by Arrigo Boito (1868), show of almost six hours that was based on the Wagnerian drama. In 1870 it takes place the success of the premiere of The Guarany of Antônio Carlos Gomes with Victor Maurel. It is instead from 1873the first, Scaliger appearance of the great German composer with Lohengrin, in the translation by Salvatore Marchesi, directed by Faccio with Italo Campanini (tenor) and Maurel in the presence of Antonio Smareglia.
Reassured by Tito Ricordi and his son Giulio, Verdi returned to La Scala in 1869 with the success of a renewed version of The Force of Destiny “staged by the author”, as stated in the poster with Teresa Stolz and Mario Tiberini. Other productions staged by the composer were the success of the European premiere of Aida (1872) directed by Faccio with Stolz, Maria Waldmann and Ormondo Maini, the new version of Simon Boccanegra directed by Faccio with Maurel, Anna D’Angeri, Edouard de Reszkeand Francesco Tamagno (1881), the second Italian version in four acts of Don Carlo directed by Faccio with Tamagno, Paul Lhérie and Giuseppina Pasqua (1884), the success of Otello’s first absolutes directed by Faccio with Tamagno, Romilda Pantaleoni, Maurel and Francesco Navarrini (1887) and Falstaff directed by Edoardo Mascheroni with Maurel, Antonio Pini-Corsi, Edoardo Garbin, Emma Zilli, Easter and Virginia Guerrini (1893).
In 1876 there was the success of the premiere of La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli directed by Faccio with Gottardo Aldighieri and Maini, in 1881 of the resumption of Mephistopheles of Boito directed by Faccio and of Excelsior Dance by Romualdo Marenco, in 1885 by Marion Delorme of Ponchielli, in 1886 by Edmea by Alfredo Catalani and in 1986 by Andrea Chénier (opera) by Umberto Giordano directed by Rodolfo Ferrariwith Giuseppe Borgatti.
Among the owners of the management of the post-unitary years we can remember the brothers Corti (1876) and Luigi Piontelli (1884-1894).
Between 1894 and 1897 the management of the theater passed into the hands of the editor Edoardo Sonzogno. On that stage, works by French composers (Charles Gounod, Fromental Halévy, Daniel Auber, Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Jules Massenet, Camille Saint-Saëns) and the so-called verista school (Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano) appeared in those years.. Richard Wagner’s works were also very successful, who in those years often inaugurate the opera season.
Between 1881 and 1884 the decorations of the rooms on the ground floor were renewed following a project from 1862 by the architects Savoia and Pirola. In 1891, to better control the influx of spectators, standing seats were abolished and the first fixed seats were installed in the stalls.
On 1 July 1897, the Municipality of Milan, faced with social emergencies and under the pressure of the leftists, decided to suspend its contribution: La Scala was forced to close from 7 December (also the singing and dance schools).
Toscanini alla Scala
The theater reopened on December 26, 1898 with I maestri cantori di Norimberga directed by Arturo Toscanini with Angelica Pandolfini, Emilio De Marchi (tenor), Antonio Scotti and Francesco Navarrini thanks to the munificence of Guido Visconti di Modrone. Repair the losses with personal funds and founded an anonymous company, of which the duke assumed the role of president by calling Arrigo Boito as his deputy, the activity began again under the general direction of Giulio Gatti Casazza and the artistic direction of Toscanini.
Toscanini’s first period at La Scala was marked by the director’s deep interest in Richard Wagner, but also in Meyerbeer and Berlioz. Among the contemporary composers, the Scaliger scene Mascagni, Franchetti, Boito catalyzed.
On 21 April 1889, with the premiere of Edgar, the young Giacomo Puccini made his debut, obtaining a cordial but not exactly warm success. A sensational fiasco was instead, a few years later, the first of Madama Butterfly (1904).
In 1900 the success of Anton di Cesare Galeotti’s première directed by Toscanini with Giuseppe Borgatti and Emma Carelli took place and in 1901 a commemorative concert for Verdi’s death directed by Toscanini with Amelia Pinto, Francesco Tamagno and Enrico Caruso.
Before staging the works of the disappeared composers, Toscanini performed an unusual work of cleaning and interpretation, aimed at restoring parts cut or conspicuously modified in the orchestration, removing all those precautions that, already starting from the first staging, were adopted to make up for shortcomings of the interpreters, correct real errors. The more famous and represented the opera was the more incisive the intervention: a good example is the work of Toscanini on Il Trovatore, staged on February 9, 1902. When the master decided to subject this work to the necessary cleaning, the publisher Giulio Ricordi, owner of the rights on the libretto, opposed a clear refusal, judging it an arbitrary intervention, and only the mediation of Boito allowed Toscanini to complete his work. In the pages of the Milan Music Gazette, the publisher, who continued to disagree, wrote:
«Toscanini is, for some, as infallible as the Pope! Indeed it is superior to Verdi himself, who also wrote the Troubadour, but has never concerted and directed it like this! »
This and other reasons (the contrast, partly due to character reasons, with Uberto Visconti di Modrone, who succeeded his father Guido in 1903, the failure to grant a salary increase, at the time clearly lower, for example, than the guaranteed one to the singers, the divergence with the Milanese audience), but above all the different way of conceiving the tasks of the conductor, seen by Toscanini as the ” demiurge ” of the show, controller of every smallest element and responsible for the unity of the work instrumentalists, singers, directors, set designers, pushed the maestro to leave Milan and Italy.
While Toscanini left the theater on April 14, 1903 during the filming of A masked ball for disagreements with the public, Gatti Casazza remained until 1907, the year in which he arranged the setback of the stage to make room for the so-called ” hole “, partially hidden by the flips. Before then the musicians and the conductor did not have their place but played in front of the audience, often obstructing visibility from the audience. During the social holidays the orchestra played instead on the stage to leave more space for the dances.
In 1906 the first concert took place with the pianist Mieczysław Horszowski, in 1907 the success of the premiere of Francesco Cilea ‘s Gloria (opera) directed by Toscanini with Nazzareno De Angelis, Solomiya Krushelnytska, Pasquale Amato and Giovanni Zenatello, in 1913 of L’amore of the three kings by Italo Montemezzi directed by Tullio Serafin with Edoardo Ferrari Fontana, Carlo Galeffi and De Angelis and in 1914 Abisso (opera) of Antonio Smareglia directed by Serafin with Icilio Calleja, Emilio Bione, Berardo Berardi, Tina Poli-Randaccio and Claudia Muzio.
In 1909, the fifth stage order was transformed into the current “first gallery” to allow more spectators, not stage owners, to attend the shows.
Autonomous Body Teatro alla Scala
At the end of 1918, Visconti di Modrone was forced to renounce the assignment for economic reasons. The two-year stall led to a radical transformation of the management criteria: thanks to the renunciation of the right of ownership by both the boxers and the Municipality, the Teatro alla Scala Autonomous Body was founded, immediately impersonated by the general manager Angelo Scandiani. Thanks to municipal and state subsidies and to the sums collected through a subscription promoted by the Corriere della Sera, the theater was finally able to enjoy complete autonomy.
Scandiani was responsible for the formal establishment of the orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, whose musicians, a hundred, will from now on be chosen according to strict selection criteria and hired with regular permanent contracts. Toscanini returned once again to the musical direction, promoter of an intense and extraordinary season for the theater. The Scaliger stage saw the greatest singers of the time alternate, including Fëdor Ivanovič Šaljapin, Magda Olivero, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, Titta Ruffo, Enrico Roggio, Gino Bechi, Beniamino Gigli, Mafalda Favero,Toti Dal Monte, Gilda Dalla Rizza, Aureliano Pertile.
In 1929 the fascist state reserved the power of appointment of the president of the institution to the head of government and imposed the participation of a representative of the Ministry of National Education on the board of directors. Faced with this, Toscanini, having completed the demanding tour in Vienna and Berlin, left the direction of the theater in May of the following year and moved to New York. In 1931, following an attack suffered in Bologna, slapped in front of the Teatro Comunale for refusing to perform the Royal March and Youth, the maestro left the village definitively.
In 1932, Luigi Lorenzo Secchi designed the “mirror stairs” that connect the foyer to the reduced stage, which was also the center of important works in 1936
In 1938 the stage was equipped with bridges and movable panels, as well as a system that made it possible to lower the level, facilitating the loading of the scenes directly from the courtyard.
On December 26, 1938 the choir master Vittore Veneziani left the Scala for exile due to the fascist racial laws.
Immediately after the fall of fascism, on July 25, 1943, posters praising the return of Toscanini (” Evviva Toscanini “, ” Returns Toscanini “) appeared on the walls of the theater. The summer of 1943 saw the sharpening of the allied bombings of Milan: the theater suffered slight damage from the raid on August 8, during which the antiaircraft workers managed to extinguish some incendiary pieces that fell on the roof. On the night between 15 and 16 August the Scala underwent a new and even more devastating hammering from above: an incendiary bomb exploded on the roof causing serious damage to the room (collapse of the ceiling, destruction of the stages of the sixth and fifth order of gallery, serious damage to the underlying structures and the service structures), with the stage being spared only because the metal curtain had been lowered to protect it; in the following days other attacks hit the museum and the side on via Filodrammatici.
“We could not cry,” recalls Nicola Benois, scenographer of the Theater, “since the beginning of the war we have been performing shows for military and wounded people, from that moment the new great wounded was La Scala”. On the initiative of the councilor for culture Achille Magni and with the placet of the mayor of Milan Antonio Greppi, it was decided to rebuild the theater ” as it was and where it was ” before the conflict. An extraordinary commissioner (Antonio Ghiringhelli) was therefore appointed who initiated the works, led by the chief engineer of the Municipality of Milano Secchi. The latter will continue until 1982 to oversee the adaptation and renovation of the theater.
The reconstruction and the return of Toscanini
The works continued until May 1946, but in the meantime there was no end to making music: the Scala activity continued at the Teatro Sociale in Como, in the Gaetano Donizetti Theater in Bergamo and, in Milan, in the Teatro Lirico and in Sports hall. On December 13, 1945 for the start of the season in the Teatro Lirico, the choir master Vittore Veneziani returns to the Scala. On 11 May 1946 at 21:00 “precise”, as can be read on the billboard, Toscanini inaugurated the new room, directing the overture of La gazza ladra, thechoir of the Imeneo, the Pas de six and the March of the Soldiers of William Tell, the prayer of Moses in Egypt, the overture and choir of the Jews of Nabucco, the overture of I vespri siciliani and Verdi’s Te Deum, the interlude and extracts from Act III by Manon Lescaut, the prologue and some arias by Mephistopheles. The “reconstruction concert”, which also saw Renata Tebaldi with Veneziani, Mafalda Favero, Giuseppe Nessi andTancredi Pasero, was a historic event for all of Milan. As Filippo Sacchi wrote:
“That evening [Toscanini] did not direct only for the three thousand who had been able to pay for a seat in the theater: he also directed for all the crowd that occupied at that moment the nearby squares, in front of the speaker batteries ”
After a series of concerts directed by Toscanini, Klecky and Votto, the opera activity resumed on December 26 with Nabucco.
The management of Ghiringhelli, appointed superintendent in 1948, was marked among other things by partisanship among supporters of Maria Callas Meneghini and Renata Tebaldi: The greek soprano, who had already appeared in place of fellow Italian in some performances of Aida of 1950 directed by Franco Capuana with Fedora Barbieri, Mario Del Monaco and Cesare Siepi, obtained the first Scaliger triumph on the occasion of the opening of the 1951-52 season as La Duchessa Elena in I vespri siciliani directed by Victor de Sabata with Enzo Mascherini, Boris Christoff, Enrico Campi and Gino Del Signore.
Among the most important events of this period we can mention the Scaliger debut of Herbert von Karajan as conductor (Nozze di Figaro with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sena Jurinac and Giuseppe Taddei, 1948) and director as well as director (Tannhäuser with Gottlob Frick and Schwarzkopf, two years later), the representation of The Ring of the Nibelungen (March-April 1950) directed by Wilhelm Furtwängler, and the novelty ofIgor Stravinskij The career of a libertine, represented on December 8 of the following year directed by Ferdinand Leitner with Schwarzkopf, Cloe Elmo, Mirto Picchi and Hugues Cuénod.
While the rediscovery of the scores was entrusted to the sticks of Thomas Schippers, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Carlo Maria Giulini, the directing choices of artists such as Giorgio Strehler, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, Pier Luigi Pizzi and Luca Ronconi allowed the public to see with new eyes the booklets. Among the great choreographers and dancers engaged in those years at La Scala we can instead mention Léonide Massine, George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci and Luciana Savignano.
In 1957, the success of the premiere of Francis Poulenc ‘s The Dialogues of the Carmelites with Scipio Colombo, Nicola Filacuridi, Virginia Zeani, Gianna Pederzini, Gigliola Frazzoni, Eugenia Ratti, Leyla Gencer, Fiorenza Cossotto and Alvinio Misciano directed by Nino Sanzogno and in 1958 took place. of Assassination in the cathedral (work) of Ildebrando Pizzetti directed by Gianandrea Gavazzeniwith Gencer, Picchi, Dino Dondi, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Nicola Zaccaria, Lino Puglisi and Campi.
On February 18, 1957 La Scala remembered Toscanini, who passed away in New York in January, with a concert conducted by Victor De Sabata.
Lyric independent body Teatro alla Scala
In the summer of 1967 a law was promulgated that reorganized the status of the main Italian theaters, recognizing the legal personality of public law at La Scala, an “autonomous lyrical body”. From this moment on, the president of the board of directors of the theater is the mayor of the city, while the superintendent is proposed by the city council and appointed by the minister for tourism and entertainment (the competence is currently transferred to the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities). The superintendent is responsible for preparing the budgets and, together with the artistic director, appointed by the board, the Scala season.
Antonio Ghiringhelli, who must be recognized, among other things, the merit of having raised the theater in the difficult post-war situation, was above all an entrepreneur. During its management the theatrical competence of the artistic directors Mario Labroca, Victor de Sabata, Francesco Siciliani, Gianandrea Gavazzeni and Luciano Chailly had a great influence. In 1972 the new superintendent, Paolo Grassi, one of the founders of the Piccolo Teatro, director and editor of theatrical necklaces and the artistic director, pianist and musicologist Massimo Bongianckino were appointed. In the same year Claudio Abbado, who has been the musical director of the orchestra for a few years, was appointed musical director of the theater. Under this management there was the period of greatest productivity of the theater, which staged almost 300 performances per year.
In 1976 the hydraulic mechanism was built which allowed the orchestra’s floor to be raised up to the level of the stage.
The following year there was a new change in management: to replace Grassi was called Carlo Maria Badini, former superintendent of the Municipal Theater of Bologna, while Claudio Abbado took the place of Francesco Siciliani, who took over two years earlier in Bongianckino in the position of artistic director. In 1978 the second centenary of the founding of the theater was celebrated with a season in which Verdi (Don Carlo, A masked ball, The masnadieri, The force of destiny and The troubadour) and Claudio Monteverdi (L’Orfeo, The return of Ulysses) stood out at homeand The coronation of Poppea). Two absolute novelties by Luciano Berio (La vera storia) and Camillo Togni (Blaubart), L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges by Maurice Ravel, Madama Butterfly and Manon Lescaut by Puccini, Fidelio di Beethoven, Pierrot were also represented Lunaire by Arnold Schönberg, Tristan und Isolde by Wagner, Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Mozartand many ballets, including the Excelsior Ball.
Only a year later, in 1979, Abbado left the artistic direction, while maintaining the musical one. In 1982, in this capacity, he founded, on the model of the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Filarmonica della Scala. In 1986, the last year of the Abbado direction, he promoted an important “Homage to Debussy “, also involving the choreographer Maurice Béjart.
Abbado was called to replace the Neapolitan master Riccardo Muti, who will promote a season of rediscovery of works such as Lodoïska by Luigi Cherubini, Alceste and Iphigénie en Aulide by Christoph Willibald Gluck, with direction of research and renewal.
With the new management of Carlo Fontana, appointed superintendent in 1990, La Scala has continued not only the traditional activity, but has focused on tours abroad (for example Verdi ‘s Requiem directed by Abbado first, by Muti then, brought, between the other, in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, or the version of Falstaff that opened the 1979-80 season, directed by Giorgio Strehler, scenography by Ezio Frigerio).
Fondazione Teatro alla Scala
In 1996 the Teatro alla Scala Foundation was established by law by the Italian State, the Lombardy Region and the Municipality of Milan, a non-profit foundation under private law, with the aim of pursuing the spread of the musical art, the musical education of the community, the professional training of artistic and technical paintings, research and musical production, also in function of social and cultural promotion. To the “founders of law” can be added any person, public or private, foreign or Italian, who contributes to the formation of the patrimony of the foundation with a minimum contribution fixed by the statute.
The new statute also allowed the opening of the Piermarini room for commercial and financial activities.
Important works affected the building from January 2002 to December 2004 which faced the most profound restoration of the historic building and modernization of the stage since the end of the Second World War. In this period the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, in the decentralized district of Bicocca, built in the ex Pirelli area, became the stage of the Scala. The renovated theater was officially returned to the public on December 7th with the representation of the same work that was commissioned for the inauguration of the Scala in 1778, Europe recognized, by Antonio Salieri, strongly desired by the musical director Riccardo Muti.
After just over a year, complex controversies saw Muti’s departure and the appointment, on May 2, 2005, of Superintendent Stéphane Lissner, former director of the Aix-en-Provence Festival (he is the first non-Italian superintendent in the history of La Scala). Daniel Barenboim, after its debut on 7 December 2007, with Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner, he was appointed music director in 2011, while maintaining the direction of ‘ Opera Berlin State. Next to young directors such as Daniel Harding and Gustavo Dudamel, Lissner reported at La Scala on 30 October 2012, Claudio Abbado, who was absent from Milan theater for twenty-six years. The direction choices were innovative and sometimes discussed (Robert Carsen, Emma Dante, Claus Guth, Nikolaus Lehnhoff). In October 2012 rumors about Lissner’s farewell are confirmed, who will move to the Opéra National de Paris from 2015. He will be succeeded by Alexander Pereira. Also from 1 January 2015, Riccardo Chailly will succeed Daniel Barenboim.
As can be seen from the official plan, in addition to the 676 seats in the stalls (including three seats for the disabled and as many for the companions), the theater can accommodate 195 spectators in the first order of stages (95 in the right ones, 100 in the left ones), 191 in the second (96 in the right stages, 95 in the left ones), 20 in the stage of honor, 194 in the third order (96 in the right stages, 98 in the left ones), 200 in the fourth (equally divided left and right), 256 spectators in the first gallery and 275 in the second gallery, for a total of 2007 spectators.
In the municipal usability provision issued three months after the reopening of the Theater in 2004 there are 2030 seats. In reality, the Theater itself has, on several occasions, communicated still different figures.
Of these places, on average, according to the data available in 2011, 630 are occupied by subscribers (including about 10 places purchased by cultural tourism agencies), 50 by the Amici del Loggione association, 22 to the superintendency and 16 to the artistic direction, 20 to sponsors (10 to Banca Intesa, as many to others, but the fee can vary a lot depending on the show), 8 to people with disabilities; 550 are finally intended for employees and the Cultural Promotion Office. While these tickets are sold at a normal price (cultural promotion tickets and tickets for disabled spectators are an exception), an additional 115 seats are made available free of charge to management (33 seats), journalists (32), law enforcement (8), the SIAE (8), the Municipality (16), the Province (6) and the Region (12). The seats sold online and at the ticket office to the non-subscribed public are therefore, on average, 440, in addition to the 140 “evening entrances” (the places of poor visibility) sold a few hours before the show.
These data were provided by the direction of the Theater in response to protests that arose regarding the alleged “unavailability” of the tickets sold individually at the ticket office, but especially online.
Among the precautions adopted by Piermarini, in addition to the shape of the room, there was the choice of the wooden vault, almost a natural resonance box. Another small trick was to significantly decrease the size of the columns that separate the various stages. In this way, according to the sources, he obtained an almost perfect acoustic in every point of the room, considered among the best of his time.
According to a 1962 study by Beranek, the Teatro alla Scala has excellent acoustics, comparable, among the major European theaters, to the only, but much later, Staatsoper of Vienna (1869). An Initial Time Delay Gap of just 0.015 seconds and only three reflections within 60 thousandths of a second was detected at the time. The values of the T30 (1.2 seconds), of the initial decay time (Early Decay Time: 1.3 s.) And C80 (which, being the reverberant room, was equal to -0.11 dB) allowed to equate the Scaliger room to that of the Teatro della Pergola in Florence. The “warmth” of the sound, that is, the richness of low frequency tones, was guaranteed by a long RT at low frequencies (125 and 250 Hz).
On the occasion of the latest works, the floor of the audience has been tilted to improve the acoustics in the room, as well as visibility. For the same reason, the carpet was removed. A direct contact with the screed in concrete (planks drowned wood in thin cement) was placed a layer of marine plywood of 15 mm thickness and then an “elastic sandwich», whose lower sheet of plaster and chipboard (thickness 15 mm) is made solid with the underlying plywood. The next layer, of polyethylenecross-linked (5 mm), it does not have rigid hooks with a second layer of plaster and chipboard, fixed instead to an additional layer of marine plywood (16 mm). Above the latter, one of granulated rubber layer, traversed by the supports of the chairs, is the basis of the planks oak of parquet (thickness 22 mm). Following the last restoration, the upholstery inside the boxes has been modified to meet the new fire resistance requirements.
However, according to a study by the University of Parma, the acoustics would have worsened in some areas of the theater: if you are away from the proscenium, that is, in the stages (especially the central ones) or in the galleries, where it has been observed that the sound it is generally deaf, even unclear. Among the critical points observed there is the fire-retardant velvet upholstery of the new armchairs, which seems to absorb excessively the sound waves. Reverberation is improved, mainly thanks to the new floor covering. The measures adopted by the theater to stem the problem affected the upholstery of the stages by removing all the polyurethane panelsclosed cell foam laid in 2004 and the red damask was glued directly to the walls.
In the first 150 years of the theater’s life, the activity began on Boxing Day (December 26) with the Carnival Season, during which mostly serious works were performed, in three or four acts interspersed with dances. The season ended on the eve of the carnival week, during which the theater hosted the dancing and feast on Fat Saturday. After Easter, other short seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn) could take place dedicated to the opera buffa, to comedy and at dances, according to the request of the public and the availability of the impresario.
Subscription prices for the inaugural season were set as follows: “for the Nobility” 6 lilies, “for the citizenship” 3 lilies, “for the Black Hoods” (that is, for the secretaries, clerks, butlers and other senior employees of noble families) 20 lire. In reality, to attend the shows you had to “remove” two tickets: one to access the theater, the other to enter the audience. The “fixed chairs” in the stalls (also called “closed” as they have keys that allowed you to close and open the seat as you wish) cost an additional 3 lilies in the first and second rows, 2 lilies in the third and fourth, 1 lily in the last two rows. Alternatively, you could settle for “flying chairs”, available for free. This use of issuing two distinct tickets was abandoned in 1797.
The season of Lent was introduced in 1788. As early as 1785 and 1787 the theater had exceptionally opened during Lent: the first year for a cantata by Nicola Antonio Zingarelli, the second year for Giuseppe recognized by the Milanese composer Giovanni Battista Calvi and for a pastoral cantata with three voices. From 1819 the Carnival Season will change its name to Carnival and Lent: the activity will habitually continue, from now on, also during the Lenten period.
Outside of the normal programming, on the occasion of particular events such as treaties, coronations or visits of the rulers, cantatas were given, such as the triumph of peace by Francesco Pollini (1801), to celebrate the Treaty of Lunéville that ratified the treaty of Campoformio, San Napoleone by Johann Simon Mayr, on the occasion of the name day of Napoleon Bonaparte, on August 16, 1807, The Return of Astrea, which is staged on January 6, 1816 for the return of the Austrians to Milan.
In the early years, compared to a relatively low number of titles (eleven, for example, in 1810), there were many replicas (228 curtains divided into three seasons, Carnival, Spring and Autumn).
In 1920 the division into seasons was abolished: the activity will take place from now on in continuity from November to June.
It can be seen that starting from the beginning of the twentieth century the number of shows increases sharply but that of replicas decreases: in 1929, for example, there are thirty-two works on the bill, the curtain rises one hundred and forty-six. In the 1970s, during the stay of the superintendent Paolo Grassi, La Scala experienced the period of greatest productivity, guaranteeing almost three hundred performances per year. In the second decade of the 21st century, thanks above all to the modernization of the stage machine, La Scala increased its activity: from around 190 curtain raises in the 1990s, the stable number of about 280 was reached.
The “premiere” of the opera season
“Of the many thrills and so much pain it is really littered the path that does not lead to a simple before, but the First par excellence”
As mentioned, the Carnival season traditionally started on December 26th.
The current custom of inaugurating the opera season on December 7, the day of Sant’Ambrogio, patron of Milan, was introduced in 1940 and then, permanently, at the behest of Victor de Sabata, starting in 1951. Just on 7 December of that year Maria Callas, who had made her debut on the Milanese stage a few months earlier, achieved her first Milanese triumph by singing in I vespri siciliani directed by De Sabata himself.
The Sant’Ambrogio evening show is both a cultural, institutional and social event deeply rooted in Italian life.
Starting from 2008 the inaugural evening is preceded by the youth preview, a recital of the inaugural work dedicated to the public under the age of thirty.
The Accademia del Teatro alla Scala
Since 1991, the Teatro alla Scala has also been involved in training for show business professionals thanks to the Directorate of Training Schools, which has become, since 2001, the Academy of Arts and Crafts of the Teatro alla Scala show. The Academy provides professional training courses through its four departments: Music, Dance, Stage-Workshops, Management. The course of studies culminates every year in the “Accademia Project”, a work included in the Scaligero program.
In 2011, to celebrate the first ten years of the Academy’s life, various concerts and a dance gala (on December 31, 2011) were added to the usual Accademia Project (that year L’Italiana in Algeri).