Episode: Salieri opens La Scala


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Salieri opens La Scala
On today’s date in 1778, Italy’s most famous opera house opened with a performance of “L’Europa riconosciuta,” or “Europa revealed,” a work written specially for the occasion by Antonio Salieri. The new theater took its name from its location, previously occupied by the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which in turn was named after a Milanese nobelman’s wife, Beatrice della Scala. These days Milan’s Teatro alla Scala—or “La Scala” for short—is still in operation, although today performances of Salieri operas are not as common as those of his 18th century rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the 19th century, La Scala was at the center of the golden age of Italian opera, which boasted the greatest works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. In August of 1943, 165 years after it opened, La Scala was damaged by Allied bombers as World War II drew to a close. The theater was repaired and reopened in 1946 with a series of gala concerts conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Some sixty years later, the theater was newly refurbished and re-opened in December of 2004 with a gala production of the same Salieri opera written for its original opening some 226 years earlier.

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