Dec 6 (Reuters) - Here is a look at La Scala, Milan, one of
the world's most famous opera houses, as its new season opens on
Friday with Richard Wagner's opera "Lohengrin" conducted by
La Scala's season always starts on Dec. 7, the feast day of
Milan's patron saint, Saint Ambrose.
* 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 in February 1776. Designed
by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala opened
in 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera "Europa Riconosciuta". The
same opera was performed when the house re-opened after its
three-year closure ended in 2004.
* In 1839, La Scala staged "Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio",
its first opera by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), whose name is
linked more than any other to the history of La Scala. In 1842,
"Nabucco" was held, the first real triumph of Verdi's career.
* In 1943, during World War Two, a bomb crashed through the
roof of the auditorium. La Scala reopened three years later,
with an historic concert conducted by Italian Arturo Toscanini.
* After the 2001 season's opening night, the house closed
for a three-year renovation. It added 214 seats to the
carmine-and-gilt hall. The backstage was demolished and replaced
with a bigger stage and new equipment to hold scenery for three
operas at the same time.
* Famous singers who have performed at La Scala include
Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Giuseppe di
Stefano, Renata Tebaldi, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and
Angela Gheorghiu. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann will sing the role of
Lohengrin on Friday.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)