One of the most important music and theatre museums in the world will see its visitors increase exponentially from May of this year. La Scala's Museum attracts around a quarter of a million visitors a year, but with more than twenty million people expected to attend Milan's Expo, a good many will find their way to the city centre and to one of the world's greatest theatres.
The opera and ballet season for the May to October period is ambitious, but the Museum – which is housed inside La Scala's main building – will be offering special events too. One of these is to facilitate access for disabled visitors. The Accessibility Project is starting now and aims to be at the forefront of innovation among Italian museums for making this period structure accessible to all.
Alexander Pereira, the theatre's General Manager and Artistic Director, said,
The Museum is considered to be one of the essential destinations for visitors to Milan. For this reason, and to celebrate Expo 2015, in addition to the permanent exhibition and the temporary exhibits that are dedicated from Salvatore Fiume, to Turandot at La Scala, to food in opera and to ballet, we have developed a series of exceptional initiatives: guided tours with chamber concerts, tableau-vivants dedicated to food, a photography contest and the restoration of two fortepianos belonging to Giuseppe Verdi.
But the initiative which we are especially proud of, and for which we thank our partner JTI, is the accessibility project that has allowed us to offer three days a month dedicated to differently-abled visitors. Once again, La Scala confirms its desire to be the theatre for all.
The Accessibility Project means that three days each month will be put aside to catering for special visitors. For the blind there will be tactile guided visits, for the physically disabled there will be a team of helpers for aiding them up and down the stairs and corridors which cannot be adapted for ramps or lifts. For the deaf the Museum will provide signers, and there will be special help for the elderly. There will be no entrance fees for these visits.
The Museum will also present four exhibitions during 2015. The work of the painter and scene designer Salvatore Fiume, will be celebrated as it is the centenary of his birth (15 January – 20 April 2015); Turandot, the opera which opens the Expo Season, will be explored in Turandot alla Scala, documenti e costumi storici with important manuscripts and costumes on show, in collaboration with Ricordi (May – June 2015); Il cibo nell'opera lirica (Food in Opera) will occupy the second part of the Expo months (July – October 2015); and the Museum's year will finish with Il balletto alla Scala (November – December 2015)
2015 will also mark the beginning of a project to restore some of the Museum's instruments including two of Giuseppe Verdi's fortepiani.
There will also be a series of guided visits which will conclude with a concert on Liszt's piano which has recently been restored. These visits will take place from 6 – 8pm, when the museum is usually closed, for a maximum of forty people at a time at the modest price of €10. The ten dates are:
13 February – 23 March – 9 April – 27 May – 23 June – 9 September – 6 October – 5 November – 27 November – 16 December
The tableau vivant linking food and opera will also be available on ten days during the year, when singers from the Theatre's Academy and actors will mix with the public to show how food often has a central place on the opera stage. Music by Rossini, Puccini and Verdi will be featured. These visits will also be from 6 – 8pm at €13 a head on the following dates:
28 January – 25 February – 6 March – 22 April – 7 May – 9 June – 22 September – 28 October – 26 November – 11 December
The Museum's final initiative comes in the form of a photo competition where visitors can take ‘selfies' (yes the word exists in Italian too!) of themselves with their favourite bust/painting/instrument/costume. The photos – “Hey, that's me with Giuditta Pasta! – will be Facebooked, Pinterested, and also looped on screens in the halls of the museum… Mmm, I think I'll go with Liszt's piano.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.