The Teatro alla Scala was founded, under the auspices of the Empress Maria
Theresa of Austria, to replace the Royal Ducal Theatre, which was destroyed by
fire on 26 February 1776 and had until then been the home of opera in Milan. The
cost of building the new theatre was borne by the owners of the boxes at the
Ducal, in exchange for possession of the land on which stood the church of Santa
Maria alla Scala (hence the name) and for renewed ownership of their boxes.
Designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala
opened on 3 August 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera L'Europa riconosciuta, to a
libretto by Mattia Verazi.
19th century Italian music was dominated by a "melodrama pain" as Gian
Francesco Malipiero wittily called it. The lack of a chamber and symphonic
tradition in Italy delayed the appearance of symphony orchestra and opera
In melodrama, the first violin orchestra leader has existed for a long time,
with eminent examples like Alessandro Rolla and his pupil Eugenio. It is
only in 1854, with Alberto Mazzuccato, that the first real conductor stands up
on a podium with a baton.
Mazzuccato started the glorious dynasty of the
Teatro alla Scala conductors, with members like Franco Faccio (champion, against
Verdi's will, of a symphonic life of the orchestra), Leopoldo Mugnone, Edoardo
Mascheroni and, finally, Arturo Toscanini.
Franco Faccio had the honour
to conduct the première of Othello in 1887, Edoardo Mascheroni that of
Falstaff in 1893, while Toscanini, after a long battle, transformed the
Teatro alla Scala from private theatre to Autonomous Board (1921/22 season).
The orchestra international prestige has been continuously enhanced, thanks
to the constant presence of great conductors like Toscanini and Victor de
Sabata, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan, Guido Cantelli and Leonard
Bernstein, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Carlo Maria Giulini, Carlos Kleiber and Claudio
Abbado, Riccardo Muti – the international repute of the Orchestra has only
Made out of 135 musicians, the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, considered one of
the world’s best orchestra for opera productions, has reached a prestigious
international position also for its symphony activity.
The main characteristic of the Orchestra is its capacity to obtain a uniform
and distinguished sound, typical of the Teatro alla Scala style, handed down
from generation to generation.
The versatile and soft sound and the fast
setting up of the opera timbre balancing are characteristic of the Teatro alla