La Scala is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta. Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from other nations, too, have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years.
Today, the theatre is still recognised as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy , which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.
The theater underwent a major renovation from early 2002 to late 2004. The theatre was closed following the traditional 7 December 2001 season opening performances of Otello, which ran through December. From 19 January 2002 to November 2004, the opera company was transferred to the new Teatro degli Arcimboldi, built in the Pirelli-Bicocca industrial area 4.5 miles from the city centre.
The renovation by renowned architect Mario Botta proved controversial, as preservationists feared that historic details would be lost. However, the opera company was said to be impressed with improvements to the structure and the sound quality, which was enhanced when the heavy red carpets in the hall were removed. The stage was entirely re-constructed, and an enlarged backstage allows more sets to be stored, permitting more productions. Seats now include monitors for the electronic libretto system, allowing audiences to follow opera libretti in English and Italian in addition to the original language.
The opera house re-opened on 7 December 2004 with a production, conducted by Riccardo Muti, of Salieri's Europa riconosciuta, the opera that was performed at La Scala's inauguration in 1778. Tickets for the re-opening fetched up to €2,000.
The renovations cost a reported €61 million, and left a budget shortfall that the opera house overcame in 2006.