The magnificent factory – 240 years of La Scala Theatre from Piermarini to Botta

The exhibition dedicated to 240 years of the theatre’s architectural history, curated by Fulvio Irace and Pierluigi Panza, opens on 4 December at the Museo Teatrale alla Scala. From Piermarini to Sanquirico, from Secchi to Botta, the history of La Scala is intertwined with that of the city and the country, reflecting social changes and technological changes, until the construction of the new building that will rise in Via Verdi in the coming years.

Milan – The exhibition “La magnifica fabbrica – 240 anni del Teatro alla Scala da Piermarini a Botta”, curated by Fulvio Irace and Pierluigi Panza and produced in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo and thanks to partners Edison and Mapei, opens to the public on December 4. Italo Lupi, Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto’s installation occupies the rooms of the Livia Simoni Library on the upper floor of the Theatre Museum, dedicated to the historical evolution of the structure of the Theatre, while the Ridotto dei Palchi will host the section dedicated to the most recent works by architect Botta and the completion of his project with the construction of the new building in Via Verdi. The exhibition catalogue is produced by the publishing partner Treccani.

The exhibition will tell the story of the development of a theater that since its inception has been a mirror of the city and its transformations: A theatre of palaetists built in solid stone after the fire at the Teatro di Corte, the Piermarini building has welcomed a society in constant evolution, reflecting its development: changes in furnishings and decorations have been accompanied by structural interventions that have made it a stage that is always at the forefront also from the technical-architectural point of view. The recent and courageous renovation entrusted to the architect Botta, completed on time, is a new testimony to the ability of our Theatre and Milan to rethink in accordance with the new functional, artistic but also urban needs while maintaining the right balance between constant renewal and preservation of a historical and architectural heritage that is now a heritage of all humanity. In the next few years, Botta’s project will be completed with the building in Via Verdi, which will guarantee new spaces for artistic, technical and administrative activities, making the activity even more efficient and coordinated. To tell this story, which began 240 years ago and is still so vital, means to tell the story of the energy and excellence of Milan. La Scala will also be in the streets of the city with the promotion of the exhibition that will include an advertising campaign on trams with the slogan “Monumento in Movimento” (Monument in Motion): a playful way to underline the dynamism that has always distinguished our Theatre but also its link with the city.

The route of the exhibition

Visitors are greeted at the entrance of the Museum by a wall with the presentation of the exhibition and an introductory video of about 5 minutes; the exhibition continues on the upper floor, in the spaces of the Livia Simoni Library, with the passage from the video room where you can see the main 17-minute film that, thanks to the collaboration of Rai Teche and Istituto Luce, presents rare documents on the history of reconstruction in La Scala. Starting from the adjoining room, the actual itinerary begins, which proceeds in chronological order from 1776, the year of the fire at the Regio Ducal Theatre, to the post-war period: the inspiring concept of the exhibition is a book, whose out-of-scale pages have graphically exploded on the walls in a landscape of environmental graphics. The theme of the book returns to the central hall where the metaphor of an orchestra comes to life: 30 lecterns contain as many historical and current images of La Scala, which come to life in a canonical way, with a different focus each time. Above the lecterns, in dialogue with them, a large projection on a screen in the form of a large open book. A moment of strong synthesis on the historical evolution of the theatre and of the square in front of it from 1776 to the present day, which brings together in an involving tale the different elements present in the exhibition.

Finally, in the Ridotto dei Palchi Arturo Toscanini is proposed the last chapter of history, the project of the architect Mario Botta who in 2004 has redesigned the function of the building and the next extension planned in 2022 that will enrich the profile of the theater with a new tower. At the centre of the Ridotto, the splendid wooden maquette by Ivan Kunz reproduces a section of the building on a scale of 1:75 with extraordinary construction detail, offering the possibility of entering the structure and exploring its architectural and functional transformations from various points of view. This is where Italo Lupi, Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto’s work is inserted, combining the physical element of the maquette and the digital element of augmented reality to offer a moment of interactive in-depth study to the visitor, who can thus enter into a three-dimensional reality, exploring, like a modern Lilliputian, the evolution of the theatre. Curiosities and historical data support, therefore, the story in a clear example of a targeted, almost “humanistic” use of technology conceived not as an end or scenic effect, but expertly calibrated to serve the project. The route is completed by a video in which architect Botta explains his project.

The exhibition’s narrative is not limited, however, to retracing the architectural transformations of the Theatre, but also explores its integration into the urban fabric, and in particular with the evolution of the square. It is no coincidence that the Gallerie d’Italia, the museum headquarters of Intesa Sanpaolo, will host the maquette of Botta’s project together with two explanatory panels, an extension of the exhibition outside the Scaliger walls.

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