“MR. MUTI had reason for optimism. He had just presided over what was widely proclaimed the cultural event of the year in Europe on Dec. 7, the reopening of La Scala after a three-year restoration and renovation. The project had encountered protests from preservationists and the usual construction delays, but the finished house was widely regarded as a masterpiece, with its new stage contraptions functioning smoothly and its venerable décor glistening afresh.”
Uh, yeah, right. The finished house was not finished. The glistening decor had been hastily cleaned of construction dust, dangling wires tucked away, etc., for the big opening-night performance. Stagehands nearly lost limbs operating the new and unfamiliar stage contraptions, but, from the audience’s point of view, everything did run smoothly.
Performances then moved right back to the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, where they have been held since the La Scala restoration began, and will continue to be held until it is truly finished. The grand opening night marking its completion was, appropriately enough, a messinscena (mise en scéne).