Milan’s Teatro alla Scala is the most famous opera house in the world and an unmissable destination for music and culture devotees.
Many of the operas singers, performers, conductors, dancers and directors who have made history - from Bellini to Verdi, Maria Callas, Pavarotti, Carla Fracci and Luchino Visconti - have trodden this hallowed stage, presenting the best of the best in global Arts.
Yet this has not always been the case: La Scala was constructed in just two years (1776-78) by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini and, over time, it served numerous functions, for a period it was even a gambling venue for the Milanese bourgeoisie.
It soon became the most fashionable and most imitated theatre in the world and, during its history, it underwent various reconstructions: for the first time in 1943, in the wake of the destruction of WW2. It was then extended and restored between 2002 and 2004 and, finally, it faced its most recent and most impactful restoration in 2014.
A live performance at Teatro alla Scala is a mesmerizing experience that goes way beyond the musical and theatrical excellence presented on stage. The enchanted atmosphere, the acoustics, the prevalence of the sumptuous red and gold that are a trademark of the great theatres of the world, the magnificence of a venue steeped in history and culture: all adds up to a celebration of the power of the stage, an essential part of the history of humanity since ancient times.
If performance tickets are sold out you can always visit the adjacent museum which grants you a peek of the theatre from one of the stages. (NB: entry is only permitted if shows, public events or rehearsals are not in progress: check out the best times on the official website where you can also enjoy a ''virtual tour'' around all the theatre areas.)
A very important moment in the calendar of Milanese events is the inauguration of season at La Scala. Since 1951, at the behest of the operatic conductor Victor de Sabata, this date always coincides with the feast of Saint Ambrose, Patron Saint of Milan. When you have crossed the threshold of the theatre and are comfortably seated, raise your eyes to the ceiling and admire the infinite lights of the central chandelier with its 365 bulbs. One for each day of the year!