The Teatro alla Scala's sparkling inauguration in Milan on Dec. 7 was a triumphant return to form. Italy 's bel mondo turned out to see maestro Riccardo Muti conduct Italian composer Antonio Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta (Europa Revealed) which hadn't been performed since its original production for La Scala's inauguration in 1778. If you didn't manage to snag a 32,000 super-prima ticket, there are repeat performances until mid-January. But it was the renovated theater, restored to its 18th century magnificence and technologically catapulted into the 21st century after $81.3 million and 30 months, that received the biggest raves.
To improve the acoustics, renovators removed rubble buried under the stalls during a hurried reconstruction after a 1943 Allied bombing, [an error occurred while processing this directive] and added a 12-tiered "floating" oak floor to improve resonance. The 17-story-high stage tower features machinery that can handle three complete scene changes, which used to be done by hand. "Our new stage machinery is the most modern in the world. Until last year we needed hours or days to shift scenery," said Muti. "Now you just push a button."
Guided visits through the new opera house are offered on weekends from Jan. 22 to Feb. 12 by appointment, tel: (39-02) 4335-3521. On Dec. 7, 2005 , Così Fan Tutte will be performed to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Plan ahead. www.teatroallascala.org