“ Address: Via Filodrammatici 2 / 20121 Milan / Italy „
If you aren't into fashion, there's only one reason to go to Milan - that is if you're an opera lover and want to visit the world-famous Teatro alla Scala. And there is something very special about attending an opera at La Scala that only a die-hard opera lover can appreciate. It isn't that this is the most modern or fancy opera house in the world, but could be considered the most famous. La Scala is, to put it simply, the HOME of opera.
La Scala is located right in the heart of Milan and there's practically no way you can miss it - and even if you do, just stopping anyone on the street and asking will get you there, since everyone in Milan knows where this is. I should also mention that it is very near a covered shopping area that's very fancy but it also has a McDonald's - which seems to get filled with fancy dressed people before the show time. I guess if you pay so much for the tickets to see something at La Scala you don't always have funds left over for a fancy dinner beforehand! Don't forget that if you do go to see a performance there, you have to dress up - no jeans and t-shirts allowed. It is strictly suit & ties for the men, and dresses for the women.
As I said, if you like opera, this is THE place to go see it. And even if you can't afford the really good seats, the ones on the sides aren't all that bad, even if they are somewhat uncomfortable. I was a bit surprised that the house itself wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be from the outside - all the pictures I'd seen make it look very big, and yet it isn't tall at all. On the other hand, it has the Tardis-effect in that when you're inside it seems huge. Mind you, since the last renovations, getting upstairs to the upper levels of seats is a long and drawn out business and the elevators are small and slow, and there are no stairway options. But once you're seated, the internal design is beautiful. I also found the individual folding translation screens to be a nice touch and while most of the opera we saw was in English, some of the dialogue was done in Italian and we did need these screens to keep up with what was going on during those bits. That's how operas are these days - they've been brought right in line with the 21st century. Again, this is a "must see" for anyone who loves opera, but they also have classical music concerts and ballet performances - depending on the time of year.
If you can't find something you want to see (or just can't afford the tickets), do try at least to visit the museum during the day (where they also take you inside the theater, if no rehearsals are on at the time). Before the performance, we spent most of the day there, which we found no less fascinating than seeing the opera itself. The museum has costumes, instruments, photographs, flyers, paintings, posters and much more from throughout the theater's history. I'd say even those just interested in theater in general would find most of this interesting. And at the end of the visit, you can spend hours and hours in their gift shop that has one of the best collections of classical CD and DVDs as well as sheet music and no small amount of fun gifts. While the entrance to the museum will give you a discount at the shop, this isn't a place to find bargains, and tickets for the theater are never cheap, but if you're willing to splurge, it is well worth the expense, and an experience you'll not soon forget.
I was lucky enough to see the newest production of Leonard Bernstein's "Candide", which was just perfect. Their orchestra is marvelous and the cast we saw doing "Candide" were amazing. I only wish I could get that performance on CD or DVD! Would I go back again? In a heartbeat, and hang the cost. It was a whole day of just one enjoyment after another. So why the title? Well, we all know that it "isn't over until the fat lady sings", and I hope it is never over for Teatro alla Scala! Bellissima! A full five stars out of five - despite the expense.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © originally posted on Trivago and IgoUgo, but highly revised for Dooyoo, July 2009
The website for La Scala can be found at www.teatroallascala.org/ and you can order tickets to performances from there on-line. Prices range from Euro50 up to Euro2000! Yes, you read that right. Now you know why people eat dinner at McDonald's before the performances.
La Scala is one of the world's most famous opera houses located in Milan, Italy.