Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Perhaps the most famous opera house in the world, La Scala is sure to be on the sightseeing list of most visitors to Milan. The building itself is somewhat underwhelming from the outside, although it is situated on a pretty square, but inside, after a 61 million euro renovation in 2004, it is stunning. Inaugurated in 1778, the theatre shows a range of opera, ballet and classical music with ticket prices ranging from five euro for a standing ticket to a ballet production to 2000 euro for a box or stalls ticket on opera opening night.
On our recent trip to Milan, we were fortunate enough to buy concert tickets - these were sold out within 30 minutes or so of going on sale and it was only buy using two computers simultaneously that we could buy four seats together. At around 65 euro per ticket for seats within a box, the world-class concert represented good value.
Located just five minutes walk from the Park Hyatt where we were staying, it was a very pleasant stroll in the warm June evening to the theatre. After a short wait outside, we were soon climbing the stairs to reach our box. I love the evocative smell of a theatre, finding that it builds anticipation for the concert. After taking our seats at the front of a cosy box (the front two seats are vastly superior to any others in the box and the same price) we gazed in awe at the beautiful red and gold splendour before us.
Soon, we were wowed by the virtuoso pianist Lise de la Salle, who played a Saint Saens piano concerto with such passion, amusement and skill - amazing that this was her debut concert. The second half of the concert was the orchestral Alpen-symphony masterpiece by Richard Strauss, which clearly painted a picture of a stroll through the Swiss countryside - complete with cow bells!
A trip to Milan isn't really complete without a concert, ballet or opera at La Scala - make sure you book early to guarantee a seat.