Are you fond of music and theatre and you would like to share this passion with your kids? Is their birthday coming up and you don’t know what present to buy them? The “Teatro alla Scala” in Milano, one of the most prestigious in the world, has been hosting the main international artists of opera and classical music since 1778.
A few years ago a new project saw the light: “Grandi Opere per i Piccoli”, great operas for children. It offers performances of famous opera titles (in the season 2017/2018 “The Barber of Seville” and the “The Elixir of Love” in an abridged version and adapted to a kids’ audience.
The aim is to educate children to beauty and to bring them closer to the arts. Yes, because opera is not a thing for a selected few or for enthusiasts only. By combining theater with music, opera is a complete and engaging for of art, it captives the attention from the very beginning, and it is a good way to arouse your kids’ interest.
How to choose the best seats at the Scala theater and when to book them
Do not let the entry price of the Scala theater deter you from going, an adult paying the full price is allowed to bring two children (under 18) at the symbolic price of 1 euro each. It is a great opportunity to allow all families to enjoy a performance in this amazing theater.
The “hardest part” is finding tickets, particularly good tickets. Not all seats, in fact, allow people (adults, too) to see the stage. They are called “posti d’ascolto” (listening seats) and are located in the second row of the galleries, where there are high bars (like in the subway). The first year I made this mistake and saw nothing!. To find good seats you need to know when the tickets go on sale, and buy the straight away! I recommend getting a seat in the central boxes (front row, places 1 and 2) or in the parterre.
We went to see “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini; a fun and light comedy, perfect for first-time opera-goers. The day before the performance I spent an hour telling my daughter about the characters, the relationships among them, describing the costumes and basic into about the author.
It was time well spent, because it allowed her to enjoy the show without worrying about understanding what was happening on stage. Obviously the element of surprise was lost, but on the other hand she could focus on the music, singing, set design and the magic of place. In my opinion, it was well worth it!
But what if you just show up without “having studied”? Do not worry, you’ll be able to make up for it with the booklets that they’ll give you at the theater. There is one for adults and one, simplified and colorful, for children.
The children’s performance at the Scala Theater
It is performance time. We take a seat on the beautiful red velvet chairs in our box, and take a good look around, admiring this theatre. Finally the lights go out. All the children are sitting still and in silence when the servant Ambrogio comes on stage. In a fun way, but always in rhyme, he introduces the characters of the story and gives us an introduction to what is going to happen. All this is not present in Rossini’s original work, of course – it is just for children. I found the idea really great!
Ambrogio appears regularly throughout the performance, acting as a storyteller and helping the young audience understand what is going on in the story. It is indeed not always easy to understand what the actors are singing, but thanks to Ambrogio we managed to follow plot easily and enjoyed the show.
What to do after the performance has ended
At the end of the performance, as you leave the Scala theater and enter Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II heading towards the Duomo, remember “spin your heels” on the bull’s balls. You will find this unfortunate bull inside coat of arms of the city of Turin, in the central octagon. A local tradition says that if you grind your heels firmly into the bull’s testicles (a symbol of strength and energy) you will be lucky.
You won’t miss it, as there are always plenty of tourists queuing up, waiting for their turn to “spin”. In fact, the mosaic is regularly removed and restored, as the heels tend to carve a hole where the testicles are!
And lastly, take a selfie in front of the Duomo di Milano, the largest church in Italy. It is 108 meters high , 160 meters long and can seat up to 40000 people. If you can spare some time, go inside and then up to the rooftop for amazing city views (info on times and tickets of their website).
Bye bye Milan! See you soon!