With its sumptuous food, dramatic scenery and rich artistic history, Italy has always been synonymous with romance, elegance and passion. It’s no surprise then that Italy is responsible for one of music’s most powerful and well-respected styles – the opera. Italian opera has dominated the genre since it came to life in the 16th century, and its success has inspired Italian architects to create the world’s most spectacular and luxurious opera houses. With Italian opera season due to resume this month, we look at Italy’s most beautiful opera houses; stunning examples of elegance playing host to some of the world’s most talented musicians.
Teatro La Scala
Regarded by many as the best opera house in the world, Teatro Alla Scala—also known as La Scala— is a truly iconic theatre. Since opening in 1778, La Scala has played host to many of opera’s biggest names, ranging from Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi to more recent stars such as Luciano Pavarotti. Not only does La Scala look incredible, but it is also built to offer amazing sound – the opera house features a concave channel under the wooden floor of the orchestra which gives the theatre superb acoustics.
Teatro di San Carlo
Built by King Charles of Bourbon and inaugurated in 1737, Teatro San Carlo is the oldest opera house in Italy and was home to some of the earliest ballet performances in the country. It’s stunning red and gold interior continues to amaze visitors to this day, and until the opening of La Scala the theatre was regarded as the country’s most prestigious theatre – its setting right next to the royal palace adding to the Teatro San Carlo’s atmosphere of glamour and grandeur.
Arena di Verona
Although it technically isn’t an opera house, Arena di Verona is still one of the most spectacular places to enjoy the opera in Italy. Standing proudly in the centre of Verona, this restored Roman amphitheatre, with its slightly pinkish marble hue, gives visitors a sense of history and magnificence – the perfect atmosphere for the opera. The arena offers amazing sound too; in fact, the acoustics are so good that live shows are often performed without microphones.
Teatro La Fenice
If you’re going to enjoy a unique operatic experience, where better than one of the world’s most unique cities? Venice is home to the Teatro La Fenice, a beautifully decorated and elegant theatre that first opened in 1792. Nicknamed ‘The Pheonix’, the theatre has nearly burned down twice since opening, but each time has risen again with support from countless artists, musicians, celebrities and the rich and famous.
It’s not just music fans who will appreciate Sicily’s gorgeous Teatro Massimo. Situated in Palermo, the domed building is considered an architectural marvel, and like so many of Sicily’s incredible structures it combines a variety of innovative styles to create something truly unique. The interior design is equally impressive—the theatre features removable ceiling panels to reduce noise from air conditioning units and its acoustics are considered some of the best in the world. The theatre is also an iconic location in the film world, most famously appearing as a setting in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Part III.