A new patron
The Armani Group will become a new corporate patron of Teatro alla Scala. The theatre became a Foundation in 1997 and Giorgio Armani was one of the first to support the Foundation when it was established. He is now back at a particularly delicate moment for theatres worldwide. Armani said in a statement:
My commitment to Milan, in this period of upheaval, has been important on many fronts, and I certainly could not neglect the culture sector, which has been hit hard in every aspect. The arts are always put on the back burner in difficult times because they do not immediately appear vital and necessary. But they are.
Theatre, music, and ballet are pure expressions of beauty and of the highest human qualities – creativity, ingenuity, imagination, commitment – which stimulate progress and rebirth.
This new initiative is dedicated to the city of Milan, for the symbolic value of the institution, but also for my emotional and personal ties with it, for the memories of the many performances and concerts I have attended, of the illustrious guests I have dressed, and of unforgettable experiences such as the creation of the costumes, in 1994, for Richard Strauss' Elektra conducted by Maestro Sinopoli.
Now, more than ever, I feel a moral duty to actively support the prestigious opera house, a legacy of the Milanese and non-Milanese alike, a true symbol of intellectual endurance.
A new building
The foundation stone has been laid for La Scala's new building, which will be contructed to the rear of the existing structure. The building that it is replacing was bought in 1997 as part of the planned renovation of the whole theatre, the first part of which was completed in 2004 after three years of work which restored the auditorium and foyers and completely replaced and modernised the stage and backstage areas.
The new building will expand the area for assembling sets, there will be new rehearsal rooms including a vast new space for the orchestra and a new ballet studio, and there will be office space for the departments that currently operate from outside the main building.
The architect is Mario Botta, who devised the first stages of the project (including the much-discussed oval extension above the old building), to ensure stylistic coherence. As with the space below the stage, if will be excavated eighteen metres below ground level (the last few metres are below the level of the water table) and will reach the height of the stage tower itself, which is about 36 metres above ground level. In total there will be six floors underground and eleven above.
The underground floors will be largely occupied by a single space, the 310 square metre rehearsal room for the orchestra, with a 14-metre-high ceiling. The dimensions and height of the room have been especially designed from an acoustic point of view with the advice of acoustic designer Yasuhisa Toyota, and this will allow it to be used also as a recording studio.
The new area for the sets means that it will be possible to prepare scenery without disturbing rehearsals or shows in progress. The new dance rehearsal studio will be an airy 150 square metres on the top floor of the building and there will also be new spaces for the theatre's archive which is currently housed in a warehouse.
The works are expected to be completed in December 2022.
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.