A few weeks ago, my friend got tickets to a recital by Mariella Devia, an Italian soprano at Teatro alla Scala. Since you remember that I sang for years (and currently can only torture my co-workers), I love live music, choirs and opera. Many of my friends studied music or are professional musicians and I live vicariously through them.
Since we were dressed up, we went and had an aperitivo at the Diana, which is a swanky bar that charges you 10euro for a drink and some potato chips. We were so hungry (and slightly tipsy) by the time we left there, we subjected ourselves to a panino in a bar near La Scala before curtain call. We were some of the last to enter. At the intermission, my friends bought 12euro prosecco to toast themselves inside La Scala, and we all raided the bowls of nuts laid out (with encouragement by the staff).
After checking our tickets, a costumed (and bored-looking) attendant ushered us into our private box. There wasn’t a soul around, and as we passed closed door after closed door lined up on the corridor like soldiers, this was the only reminder we had that this theater was packed. After opening our door up with a key, we entered a small room with 6 stools that we could rearrange as we pleased. All of the sudden I remembered the other function of an opera house, and especially in the past centuries – to be seen.
The way the theater is designed, you have some privacy but because everyone needs to see, there is some space shared with others. The lights never go completely dark in the theater so it feels much more communal than being in a cinema, even though you are more separated from each other.
It was beautiful inside and at times I wanted to lay down my head on the cushioned railing in front of us and relax as I listened. I often closed my eyes to listen to her sing because the audience and other senses were a distraction. The recital, of course, was excellent.
The most popular nights at La Scala sell out immediately and it takes some dedication to get tickets online or at the box office. But, there are some last minute tickets available. This is some purchasing info for you from the La Scala website – my friends queued up the day of the performance before noon, at the Box Office under the Duomo, and there were orchestra seats still available for the ballet that night (probably not typical), but they could have gotten gallery seats ater.
Note: Remember that men are requested to wear a jacket in La Scala, so if you don’t have one available, you might want to think twice. Luckily, there are tons of shops in the area of the Duomo for you to outfit yourself.
Central Box Office – Duomo
One month before each performance, all tickets left unsold will be put on sale at the Central Box Office. In cases when the first day of sale falls on a date when the Box Office is closed, tickets will go on sale from the day the Box Office re-opens. The Theatre Management reserves the right to limit sales to two seats per person for performances with limited availability. Purchases made at the Box Office in the month preceding the date of the performance and until the day preceding the performance will be charged a 10% advance sales fee.
Two hours before the performance, the Evening Box Office will sell 140 numbered tickets for gallery seats. The Association “l’Accordo” will be in charge of the organization of queuing for purchase of Gallery tickets. Every person will be entitled to one ticket.
Last minute purchases
In the hour preceding every performance, any tickets still available will be sold with an average 25% discount (“last minute”).
To be honest, I have a few small clips of the evening to remember the feeling inside, but I don’t feel right posting them especially after I apprised myself of the theater guidelines afterward (oops). There was a woman in the box over that recorded the entire concert on her camera!
I can’t leave with you at least a little taste of that evening – here is the final applause for her performance – the lights inside the theater are at full strength and you can get a bit of a feel for what it’s like to be there. Some of the boxes or seats are empty because it was the fourth encore and some had thought she would stop at 3! Check out the higher levels of the boxes – the standing rooms and I can only imagine what it felt like to be so high up and staring down at everyone!