Teatro alla Scala, popularly known as La Scala, is the main opera house in Milan, and one of the most prestigious theaters in the world. The theater is located in the homonymous square, flanked to the west by the Ricordi Casino, home to the La Scala Theater Museum (Museo Teatrale alla Scala).
After a fire destroyed the Royal Ducal Theater (Teatro Regio Ducale) on February 26, 1776, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, at the request of Milanese patrician families, issued a decree for the construction of a new theater. The project was entrusted to the famous architect Giuseppe Piermarini.
The theater was built on the site of the Church of Santa Maria alla Scala, named after its founder – Regina della Scala, member of the Della Scalla family, Lords of Verona.
The demolition of the church began on August 5, 1776, and on May 28, 1778, the theater was completed. On August 3, the theater was inaugurated with Antonio Salieri’s opera Europa riconosciuta, in the presence of the governor of Milan, Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg-Este, accompanied by Maria Beatrice d’Este, Count Carlo Giuseppe di Firmian and Duke Francesco III d’Este.
During 1807, the interior decorations were redesigned according to Neoclassical taste, while in 1814, following the demolition of some nearby buildings, including the Convent of San Giuseppe, the stage was enlarged after a project by Luigi Canonica.
In 1943, during the Second World War, La Scala was severely damaged by bombing. The theater was rebuilt and reopened on May 11, 1946.
The theater underwent a major renovation between 2002 and 2004.
The characterizing architectural elements of the facade are the tympanum, the pilasters, and the semi-columns of the central body. The two small lateral bodies, built in 1835, confer a distinct monumentality to the facade, and the gallery which precedes the entrance offers depth.
The floors are marked by cornices and have different wall coverings. The ground floor and the mezzanine, interrupted by seven blind arches, are covered by ashlar masonry, while the upper floors are covered with simple white plaster.
The gallery is surmounted by a terrace with a balustrade. In correspondence with the terrace, between the semi-columns of the central body, there are three gabled doors. On the sides of the doors, there are four rectangular windows, decorated also with triangular tympanums.
The facade is crowned by a decorated tympanum, based on a design by Piermarini, with a bas-relief by Giuseppe Franchi. The bas-relief depicts the allegory of The chariot of the Sun chased by the Night.
Inside, the large hall of the theater has the shape of a horseshoe embellished with Neoclassical decorations. The hall has four tiers of boxes and two galleries. The first three tiers have 36 boxes, while the fourth has 39.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest Metro station is Duomo, located about 350 meters away in Piazza del Duomo, on the Metro Lines M1 and M3. The closest tram stop, Teatro alla Scalla, is located a few meters away, on the tram Line 1.