La Scala, Where The Fat Lady Sings

 

 

 

 

 

“The opera ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.”  Dan Cook (or Yogi Berra, depending on which version of the story you believe)

I grew up in a family of opera fans.  We named our pets after characters in operas.  As a result, I can’t even remember how young I was when I first heard of La Scala.  When we saw the outside, I thought “this is it?”   When it was built in 1778, it houses on the then-narrow street made it impossible to admire the façade. My dad never would have forgiven us if we didn’t do the tour, so we did (and picked him up a little something from the gift shop).  It was impressive.  Note: they want you to purchase the guidebook in the gift shop so very little is labeled in English and almost nothing is put in context for those unfamiliar with opera. Luckily, I’d absorbed enough by osmosis to recognize and understand the significance of some of the more important objects.  Opera lovers will be enthralled.  

Although they say no pictures,  groups of tourists happily snapped away at every available opportunity.   I snapped a few for you, although I tried to be discreet about it.  I didn’t use a flash and even made him cough to cover up the sound of the shutter clicking.  Watch out Boris and Natasha, there’s a new secret agent on the loose.  Actually, judging from the quality of the photos, your jobs may be safe.

The interior is amazing. Opulent and elegant, it is everything that such a legendary and prestigious place should be.  Charlotte has a nice theater and I “make” him go to the opera every year whether he likes it or not.  It’s good for him and the cheap seats aren’t much more than a movie.  Although Charlotte’s and many other theaters are larger, La Scala blows them out of the water. Check out the royal box.  Can you imagine seeing a show from there?  Can you imagine the hijinks that box has seen? Unfortunately, La Scala was bombed during WWII. Highlights of the museum include: The death masks of famous composers like Giuseppe Verdi Franz Lizst’s piano Toscanini‘s baton Verdi’s top hat, portrait, wives’ portraits, and other miscellany that belonged to or depicted the Costumes Ancient musical instruments

Highlights of the museum include:

  • The death masks of famous composers like Giuseppe Verdi
  • Franz Lizst’s piano
  • Toscanini’s baton
  • Verdi’s top hat, portrait, wives’ portraits, and other miscellany that belonged to or depicted the composer
  • Cool portraits
  • Costumes
  • Ancient musical instruments

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Next to Milan’s Duomo, is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a four-story glass-covered shopping arcade.

We sat down for our first of several coffees at the Campari Cafe, just inside the opening.  The cappuccinos were the best these caffeine addicts had ever tasted.  I’m not exaggerating.  It was the best coffee I’d ever had.  Sitting on the patio, we had front row seats for some great people watching.   I am sure that people in Geneva and other places are just as interesting, but the culture is so private that you feel bad staring.  In Milan, everyone is there to see and be seen, so it feels perfectly acceptable.

Campari was invented in this historic café.  Giuseppe Verdi and Auturo Toscanini used to hangout here after a performance at the nearby La Scala Opera House.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was built right after Italian unification in 1870 to be a showplace for modern Milan.  This patriotic, art deco building still is.

It was Milan’s first building with electric lighting.

Guiseppe Mengoni designed it, but tragically plummeted to his death from the scuffling just weeks before it was finished.

For good luck, locals (and tons of tourists) spin on one of the floor’s mosaics.  The mosaic is of a bull, Milan’s symbol.  You don’t just step on any part of it.  You spin, grinding your foot into its, um, what’s the word for cojones in Italian?  We saw over a dozen people do it.   People walked out of their way to do a quick spin before continuing with their business.

I’m all for breaking some balls, but the extraordinary amount of wear and tear means that the poor bull gets a new set every few years.  The ground is permanently indented there.