The history of Teatro alla Scala started in 1776. That year, a fire destroyed the previous theatre, the Teatro Regio Ducale, on 25 February 1776, after a carnival gala. After this tragic event, the empress Maria Teresa, wanted to build a new theatre. Thus, the construction of La Scala started. The site chosen for the new theatre was the degraded area of the Church of Santa Maria della Scala, named in honour of Beatrice Regina della Scala, the wife of Bernabo Visconti.
The empress, Maria Theresa of Austria, appointed the architect Giuseppe Piermarini to build a new theatre. So, after two years, in 1778, the construction was finished and so began the story of one of the greatest opera houses in the world, Teatro alla Scala.
The theatre had a total of about 3,000 seats, organized into 678 pit-stalls, arranged in six tiers of boxes above which is the “loggione“, or two galleries. Its stage is one of the largest in Italy.
Building expenses were covered by the sale of boxes, which were lavishly decorated by their owners, impressing observers such as Stendhal. La Scala soon became the preeminent meeting place for noble and wealthy Milanese people. In the tradition of the times, the main floor had no chairs and spectators watched she shows standing up. The orchestra was in full sight, as the orchestra pit had not yet been built. As with most of the theatres at the time, La Scala was also a casino, with gamblers sitting in the foyer.
La Scala opened to the public in 1778. The first performance was Antonio Salieri’s L’Europa riconosciuta, which he had composed specifically for the opera house’s grand opening.
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