La Scala Opera House, touted as the World’s Favorite Opera House is featured in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. And since it was my first trip to Milan that more importantly coincided with my birthday, my treat was going to be to get really good tickets to see an opera!
I called the day I landed and checked on ticket availability and prices, but since I was unsure of my work schedule, I did not commit immediately.
And then came the call from my boss. He wanted to know what my plans were for the next few nights, since we might have to attend a company celebration. My heart sank. I desperately wanted one night to get out and watch an opera and now that was looking bleak. He proceeded to tell me that the celebration was being held at La Scala and we had tickets to go see La Traviata. Could I do it? I jumped for joy and that lasted all of five minutes before I realized I did not pack a gown.
So, on the appointed day, as my colleagues marched into La Scala in their tuxedos and beautiful gowns, I came in a business suit. Everyone looked so beautiful, almost ethereal. While I had seen plenty of opera including The 3 tenors on TV, being part of the real thing was something else.
The theater was simply breathtaking and the production spectacular. From the opening act where the courtesan Violetta Valéry greets her guests to her romance with Alfredo to their misunderstanding and ultimately Violetta’s death in her lover’s arms, I was transfixed. I was following what was happening on the little monitor, but the understanding came from being in the moment. As someone who is fairly naive about opera, I was surprised with the hold the music had over me. I had seen plenty of broadway shows, but the production here was something else. And I was with a group of Italians, avid opera lovers who were smiling and tearing up the entire time. I simply melded into their experience.
When the performance concluded, there was fervent chatter in Italian all around me, including veterans who were comparing and contrasting the various performances of La Traviata they had experienced. It was then it hit me that opera is a deeply spiritual experience for many, a journey that enriches them each time.
I would not say the show made me an opera convert. What it did do is leave me with a deep appreciation for another genre of music and art and a tremendous sense of gratitude that I was able to do what I really wanted to do in Milan.
To learn more about La Scala and get a schedule of performances, click here: