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Teatro alla Scala: The Temple of Wonders - Film Review

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by Helen Belli (subscribe)
I am now living in Kariong on the Central Coast
Published March 18th 2016
Teatro alla Scala is on another planet
Opera has its headquarters in an architecturally magnificent "Temple' built for musicians who have music in their DNA. The format for this film, directed by Luca Lucini is documentary in style, using archival footage, interviews with living artists and actors who stand in for people who over the years have been associated with the theatre.

Great moments of triumph are seen through the eyes of some of the people who have not only sung, danced, conducted, composed or worked backstage. This includes the costume designers, props people and others who are proud to serve at 'the temple' of wonders and excellence. Many names will be familiar to most music lovers. Verdi, Puccini, Callas Pavarotti, Toscanini and Barenboim and many others known to some.

For over 200 years the best of the best singers and dancers have performed at the most famous opera theatre in the world, La Scala. Many more have dedicated a lifetime towards standing on this stage in the hope of hearing thunderous applause. This is not always the case. The audience can be brutal, booing artists failing to meet the standards of the discerning audiences that frequent the theatre. Some have stood their ground, as did Maria Callas, the greatest soprano of them all when she missed a high C during a performance. She pointed to the maestro and said 'encora' and was greeted with a standing ovation as she produced a note that rocked the house. Not so lucky were others, such as Roberto Alagna who was booed off the stage during a production of 'Aida' in 2006, the following year he redeemed himself at the Met in the same opera with a standing ovation.

Built in 1776 the theatre has been renovated 3 times since. It was bombed during WWII and remodelled, reducing the seating from 3,000 to 2,000, and again in 2002. It has an enormous stage and orchestra pit, [no doubt the envy of all who have struggled to play in the tiny pit at the Sydney opera house] stalls and 6 tiers of boxes on top of which is the famous loggione, the area for the less affluent theatre goers and critics, who will let the performers know in no uncertain terms what they think of their efforts. Flowers or shoes may be thrown onto the stage from this area! No longer do theatre goers treat the theatre as their drawing room as was the fashion until the WWI, when gambling and attending to everyday business, while occasionally stopping to listen to the singers and dancers, annoyed many but tolerated by management.

To see a performance at 'the temple' is on the bucket list for opera lovers worldwide, particularly on the opening night of the season every year on the 7th December. See you there?
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Why? An incredible journey through of one of the most important temples of performing arts in the world
When: In cinemas 27 February
Phone: 07 31376000
Where: Selected cinemas
Cost: $25 and concessions
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