FACTBOX-New season at La Scala opens with Wagner

Reuters Middle East

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Here is a look at La Scala, Milan, one of

the world's most famous opera houses, as its new season opens on

Friday with Richard Wagner's opera "Lohengrin" conducted by

Daniel Barenboim.

La Scala's season always starts on Dec. 7, the feast day of

Milan's patron saint, Saint Ambrose.

* Teatro alla Scala was founded under the auspices of the

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to replace the Royal Ducal

Theatre, which was destroyed by fire in February 1776. Designed

by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala opened

in 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera "Europa Riconosciuta". The

same opera was performed when the house re-opened after its

three-year closure ended in 2004.

* In 1839, La Scala staged "Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio",

its first opera by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), whose name is

linked more than any other to the history of La Scala. In 1842,

"Nabucco" was held, the first real triumph of Verdi's career.

* In 1943, during World War Two, a bomb crashed through the

roof of the auditorium. La Scala reopened three years later,

with an historic concert conducted by Italian Arturo Toscanini.

* After the 2001 season's opening night, the house closed

for a three-year renovation. It added 214 seats to the

carmine-and-gilt hall. The backstage was demolished and replaced

with a bigger stage and new equipment to hold scenery for three

operas at the same time.

* Famous singers who have performed at La Scala include

Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Giuseppe di

Stefano, Renata Tebaldi, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and

Angela Gheorghiu. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann will sing the role of

Lohengrin on Friday.

Sources: Reuters/www.teatroallascala.org

(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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