La Scala in Milan is probably the most famous opera house in the world.
Its construction started, thanks to the Empress Maria Teresa of Austria, in 1776 after the destruction of the Ducal Theatre by a fire and it took two years to complete it. It derives its name from the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, on whose remains it has been built according to a project of the (neoclassical) architect Piermarini. The sober facade heavily contrasts with the magnificent interior. After its first opening performance (a work by Salieri). Many more followed, from Paisiello to Cimarosa, from Rossini to Bellini, Donizetti and
Verdi, just to name a few ones. Arturo Toscanini became artistic supervisor of La Scala in 1898 and the repertoire he chose included then Wagner, Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Puccini.
The Town Hall of Milan purchased the theatre in 1921 from its private owners. The best directors and singers in the world have performed at La Scala which kept its primary role as the most prestigious opera theatre also between the world wars and after the Second World War.
A Museum (opened in 1813) close to the theatre displays portraits, busts, costumes and many antique properties of Verdi and Toscanini.