Teatro alla Scala


by Alice Lechner
May 14, 2020


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, empress Maria Teresa wanted to build a new theatre, and 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 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 her shows standing up. The orchestra was in full sight, as the 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.

Soon, however, Teatro alla Scala established itself as a cultural hub in the city. In 1812, Gioachino Rossini came to La Scala and “transformed” it into a place of Italian opera seria. Rossini’s works performed at La Scala: Il turco in ItaliaLa CenerentolaIl barbiere di SivigliaLa donna del IagoOtelloSemiramide and Mose.

A new season of serious opera took place between 1822 and 1825. This season opened with Chiara e Serafina by Gaetano Donizetti. Until 1850, many of Donizetti’s operas were performed at La Scala: Anna BolenaLucrezia BorgiaLa fille du regimentLa favoritaand Don Pasquale. These were followed by Bellini’s Capuleti e I MontecchiNormaLa sonnambula, and I puritani.

In 1839 Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio inaugurated the cycle of operas by Giuseppe Verdi. 

The relationship between the famous composer and the most prestigious theatre in Milan became famous for its stormy character: Verdi was in love with the theatre but had to give it up for over 20 years because of its contradiction with the contractors. Verdi did not allow his work to be played at La Scala, as the orchestra had modified some of his music (he said “corrupted“). It was probably also Verdi’s absence that influenced the crisis period La Scala underwent in the late 1800s. However, the composer later conducted his Requiem there on 25th May 1874 and announced in 1886 that La Scala would host the premiere of his penultimate opera, Otello. The premiere of his last opera, Falstaff, was also in the theatre.

One of the greatest names associated with La Scala is Arturo Toscanini. He became the artistic director from 1921 to 1929 and introduced radical reform into the theatre, both in its organisational aspects and relations with the public. He conducted the first performance of Turandot on 25th April 1926. Puccini’s great opera Turandot was unfinished at the time of the composer’s death in 1924. Thus, at the premiere at La Scala, Toscanini, in the middle of Act 3, halted the orchestra, laid down his baton and, turning to the audience, announced, “Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro died“. The curtain was lowered slowly.

In 1943, during World War II, La Scala was severely damaged by bombing. It was rebuilt and reopened on May 11th, 1946, with a memorable concert by Arturo Toscanini and Renata Tebaldi as a soloist, creating a sensation.

La Scala was the guest of many legendary artists such as Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Giussepe Di Stefano, Mario Del Monaco, and many others. Principal conductors and music directors who wrote the history of La Scala were: Franco Faccio, Arturo Toscanini, Tullio Serafin, Carlo Maria Giulini, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly (2015-2022).


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Alice Lechner
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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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