When it comes to Milan, its Duomo and Teatro alla Scala come to mind. Because they are two places that are part of the history of the city, its worldliness, its culture. And on 3 August, an important anniversary occurs for the city theater. 242 years have passed since the inauguration of the Teatro alla Scala. An important anniversary this year too, in which it is not easy to restart culture. But the theater is ready for this new challenge and the program of concerts and the new season has already been released. Because art and theater don’t stop. But let’s try to retrace the stages of the long history of this place of the heart, for all the Milanese and beyond.
Teatro alla Scala, the temple of culture: some historical information
Known as “La Scala di Milano”, the theater is considered by everyone to be the main opera house in Milan. And above all one of the most prestigious theaters in the world. In fact, it hosts major international opera, classical music and ballet artists every year. Built in the place where the church of Santa Maria alla Scala was located, demolished for the Nuovo Regio Ducal Teatro alla Scala. Its inauguration, on the other hand, took place on August 3, 1778. And according to tradition that is respected for the opening of a large theater, “Europe recognized” was staged. To compose it Antonio Salieri. Chorus, orchestra and ballet company were founded in the same year. It was 90 wealthy families from Milan who wanted the theater to be built after the fire that damaged the previous theater in 1776. The neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, approved by the empress Maria Teresa of Austria, designed the project.
The inauguration of the Teatro alla Scala season every year on 7 December
And did you know that every year all the Milanese social life, civil, military authorities, but also many young people await the start of the theater season. And it is no coincidence that in 1940, at the behest of Victor del Sabata, it was decided that the season was inaugurated on December 7 every year. Significant date for Milan. Its patron Saint Ambrose is celebrated. And then on December 7 of that year Maria Callas achieved her first triumph in the city as interpreter of “I vespri siciliani” directed by De Sabata himself.
Rossini, Verdi, Donizzetti, the big names of Italian theater in Milan
And such an important place was the setting for great works and great masters and composers. From Rossini: with him in 1812 the Scala became the place of Italian melodrama. And then Donizetti and Bellini until 1839 with “Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio” which opens the era of Verdi (1813-1901), the composer who more than any other is linked to the history of La Scala; the triumph of Nabucco (1842), for the strong patriotic sentiment that aroused in Milan crossed by the ferment of the nascent Italian Risorgimento. To reform the theater, Toscanini who became its artistic director in the 1920s, extending the orchestra’s theatrical and symphonic repertoire.
Singers, directors and great dancers of La Scala
The great protagonists of the Teatro alla Scala were also performers such as Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo. The directors Visconti, Zeffirelli, Ronconi. Not to forget the choreographers and dancers such as Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Luciana Savignano. So many directors and composers who led the theater. In the eighties Riccardo Muti who staged, among others, Verdi’s most beloved works, Rigoletto, La traviata, Macbeth, La Forza del Destino, Falstaff and Don Carlo. There are also many maintenance and restoration works. And in 2004 the reopening after the works was characterized by the representation of “recognized Europe” by Salieri under the direction of Muti. Just in homage to that distant August 3, 1778.
The programming for the restart
And the Milanese theater is ready, now, to start again with a rich program. Leading the rebirth is musical director Riccardo Chailly, who will be engaged in Aida and in numerous concerts, while Maestro Zubin Mehta will be on the podium, on September 15, for La traviata and six symphonic concerts. But the rules of distancing on stage and in theaters will be respected. And it is expected for September 4 with the Requiem Mass by Giuseppe Verdi directed by Chailly in the Milan Cathedral in memory of the victims of the pandemic.