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Visitor and background information for La Scala Theatre, Milan.

Inaugurated in 1778, the world famous Teatro alla Scala is Italy's premier opera house and is situated in the centre of Milan. It is recognised as one of the world's most important ballet and opera theatres, home to the La Scala Theatre Ballet, La Scala Theatre Chorus and La Scala Theatre Orchestra and in association with the Accademia Teatro alla Scala which offers professional training in the theatrical arts.

The theatre was built on the site of the deconsecrated and subsequently demolished church of Santa Maria della Scala (from which it takes its name), replacing a previous theatre, the Teatro Regio Ducale, which was destroyed by fire in 1776. The new theatre had over 3000 seats arranged in tiers of boxes for the wealthy and important, with the gallery at the top traditionally occupied by the noisiest and most critical; down on the unseated main floor the audience would watch the performance standing up.

The theatre evolved, with the addition of electric light in 1883, and a renovation in 1907 which resulted in its present layout. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1946 after being seriously damaged by bombs, and was again renovated between 2002 and 2004 including the installation of an electronic libretto system which allows the audience to follow the libretto in a choice of languages.

Some images of La Scala, Milan

The enormous stage is one of the largest in Italy and has seen the first production of many famous operas. Some of the finest operatic singers in the world have appeared at La Scala, and Toscanini has twice held the position of principal conductor. Verdi also had an important relationship with the opera house and his operas 'Otello' and 'Falstaff' both premièred here.

The opera house also boasts a museum, the Teatro alla Scala Museum, inaugurated in 1913 and boasting a fine collection detailing the history of this spectacular theatre.

Reserve a guided tour of La Scala Theatre and Museum

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