Sunday, June 04, 2017

Saturday, 3 June 2017: Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at La Scala

Not knowing whether or not this would be my only trip to Milano, I had decided months ago that I needed to see an opera at La Scala.

Teatro alla Scala
(taken the next day)

It turns out the "Don Giovanni" was the one being presented at the time of my trip, so I purchased a ticket a few months ago. Actually, at that time, there were on 30 seats left for this Saturday evening performance! This was also why my first order of business was a nap in the afternoon.


If you are a lover of any music or stage production, you really cannot pass up going to the opera in style! La Scala is not built like most concert houses in the USA, even those considered to be for opera. There are no balconies. There is seating on the orchestra floor, and then there are six layers of boxes - from one side of the stage around to the other! Each box has five or six seats, in three rows. The front two are regular chairs, upholstered in red satin. The next two seats do not have backs, but are about 6" taller. The last seats don't have backs either, and are another 6" taller, almost like a bar-stool, but not quite. There is red satin wall covering including a padded rail on both sides for one to lean on.

 View from the front of my box.

 My hat on my seat.

Me in one of the front seats.

La Scala puts on modern staging of opera these days. I found it wonderful and fascinating! They treated the entire theater as part of the production. The stage props, though simple an not quite minimalist, often acted as an extension of the house all the way to the back of the stage. At times, singers would enter from the foyer via the center aisle, or sing a trio at the front of the orchestra seating, right behind the conductor's head. During the masquerade ball scene, a small contingent of the orchestra played from the far back of the stage, and a violin and bass from near the front of the stage. The interaction of the singers with the audience was fun!

This inclusion of the audience began with the first notes of the Overture. With the house lights low and the curtain bright, Don Giovanni wander onto the stage, sort of in a stupor, and grabbed the curtain, pulling it to a pile on the stage floor! It revealed a huge mylar mirror of the hall, and the house light came back on. It was thrilling from the very first moments!

At the intermission, I decided not to partake of the "adult beverages", but did venture out into the upper foyer and onto the balcony with many others for some fresh air and socializing.

The upstairs foyer.

The balcony.

The Piazza della Scalla
with the monument to Leonardo da Vinci.
You can see the central spire of the Duomo in the distance.

A telephoto of the spire.

The production was very modern, especially the costumes - evening dress for men, except for the common men who wore black work clothes. I don't know if stage hands took non singing part, or if the opera chorus was trained to move the sets. It looked like it could be either. The ladies were often scantily clad (probably a relief for singing!) If the entire production had been recorded on film, it would have a "R" rating - it was very risque, and even had a moment of nudity. The whole thing was surprising and breathtaking!

The curtain call.

I was a good boy, and only took photos before the performance began, and then this one. There were others taking photos, even a few movie shots from the privacy of the boxes.

The down-side of this fantastic evening was the timing. The opera began right at 2000, but didn't finish till 2330. The Oasi San Francesco is a Catholic retreat house, and has a very strict Midnight curfew - which I did NOT make! I had to return to the Duomo Piazza and find a taxi driver who knew an inexpensive hotel for one night. I got to bed at about 0200!

I arose at 0830, got dressed, and returned to the Oasi, and got ready to go to Mass at the Duomo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In view of the "lockout" and unexpected hotel bill, the proverb "One must suffer for one's art" springs to mind --although in this case it was la Scala's art you suffered for. . . --RW