(The venerable Teatro alla Scala)
I haven't been to a full-length opera and what better way to experience my first opera than the mecca of operas - the Teatro alla Scala?
Fortunately, there was an opera playing the night we were there. Il Viaggio a Rheims was on it's last few performances and we hastily purchased (expensive!) tickets. But it all turned out to be worth it.
Il Viaggio a Rheims was an opera by Gioachino Rossini, the last he wrote in Italian. He did not intend it to be performed for more than 4 performances since he was also using the music for another opera he was writing. But Charles II of France wanted an opera to commemorate his coronation so this was created just for the occasion.
About the opera: In those days, the coronations were done in Rheims, not in Paris, and this opera chronicles the thwarted attempts of an international array of characters to get their asses to Rheims for the coronation only to find out that the coronation party was making their way back to Paris for additional celebrations.
The Teatro alla Scala was smaller than I expected but the acoustics are excellent. We were fortunate to have box seats which we shared with a Japanese family of three. I also did not notice that the booth had super titles for translation until after the intermission.
The staging of the opera was minimalist and they had large video screens showing the royal procession outside the theatre making their way to the Scala signifying the coronation party's arrival in Paris which I thought was very clever. Also, if you haven't been to the Opera before, or accompanying who hasn't been, it's a good idea to pick a bel canto opera since they are usually filled with pretty melodies and will probably be a short one. This opera had only one intermission and was very easy to watch.
During intermission, they opened up the ballroom for some refreshments which included champagne, light beverages, chocolates and sandwiches. It was very pleasant and not crowded and everyone was gorgeously dressed except for me who looked like I should be picking up the empties and swabbing the floor! Hahaaaa!