Bombardments and reconstruction, but also restorations that make space for an ambitious modernisation project by Mario Botta. Born like the Phoenix out of two utter destructions, as well as two huge refusals - by Italy’s most prominent architect at the time, Luigi Vanvitelli, who turned down the invitation to design the new theatre and by the immortal composer Christoph Willibald Gluck - Teatro alla Scala celebrates its 240th year with a huge exhibition organised by the adjacent Museo Teatrale. An itinerary including works of art, panels, videos, images, photos and projections which document a history that mirrors all the social and technological changes of the city itself. It was August 3, 1778 when Piermarini presented his theatre in the neoclassical style to all, built in less than two years for 494.400 lira, in accordance with the wishes of Maria Teresa of Austria, and inaugurated with the World Premier of Europe Riconosciuta by Antonio Salieri. The choice was undoubtedly courageous: knock down the church from the 1300s, Santa Maria alla Scala, in order to build “the first theatre of the world”, as Stendahl defined it, a place for the illuminated borghese, right in the heart of the city. And while, between 1821 and 1830, the large hall of Piermarini underwent constant renovations, with candlelight being replaced by oil lamps, in 1856 the architectural revolution went a step further, being admired from the outside as well, when all the houses in front of the theatre were torn down to make way for Piazza della Scala. On December 26, 1883, the theatre was transformed once again with electric lights invented by Edison. Upon his arrival, Arturo Toscanini, who directed his first season in 1898, inaugurated with I Maestri Cantori di Norimberga, insisted on total darkness in the house during performances, that silence be respected and that nobody enter the theatre with shows already underway. But the exhibition at the Museo Teatrale looks to the future as well. Next year, along Via Verdi, behind the scenic tower, a new tower will rise, once again created by Botta. It will offer increased space to dancers and musicians with rehearsal halls, as well as increasing the amount of space backstage at the theatre.
Samantha De Martin - © 2019 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano