La Scala

Address: Largo Ghiringhelli 1, Piazza Scala, Milan, 20121, Italy
Telephone: 02 8879 2473/7473

- Budget


Scale the operatic heights.

There’s said to be a ghostly soprano backstage at La Scala, though pundits can’t agree whether it is Maria Callas, for whom this was ‘home’, or another 19th-century Maria. Either way, since the opera house was inaugurated in 1778 with a performance of Salieri’s less than memorable opera L'Europa Riconosciuta, this has been one of the finest opera houses in the world. Founded by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini, luminaries such as Verdi and Puccini premiered works including Nabucco and Turandot here.

Even if you can’t manage to get to a performance, visit the fascinating theatre museum, which showcases a tiny proportion of the theatre’s treasures, from Verdi’s piano to a room dedicated to the Comedia dell’Arte (Harlequin and Pierrot) and even old board games played by the in-crowd during the intervals. The tour includes a peek into the fabulously grand scarlet and gold auditorium if there is no performance on.

The theatre archives include 24,000 drawings and paintings by artists from Picasso to Chagall and Hockney, along with around one million photographs, 17,000 posters and 5,000 operatic recordings of singers and conductors including Callas, Pavarroti, Toscanini and von Karajan. Everything is being digitised and made accessible.

Value for money

Price advice

A museum ticket costs five euros; opera performance tickets range from 10-190 euros.

Expert tips

Il Marchesina does pre- and post-theatre meals for a night out on the town.

If you do want to include the opera on a trip to the city, plan your trip around your tickets - go online, get your seats and then book your flights.

Recommended for

  • Business travellers
  • Couples
  • Culture vultures
  • Mature travellers
  • Seasoned travellers
  • Nightlife
  • Romance
  • Special occasions
  • Art
  • Design and architecture