On this day in theatre history–August 3, 1778–the great “La Scala” opera house first opened its doors in Milan, Italy. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the facility held over 3,000 spectators with one of the largest stages in Italy. As was common in those days, Italian opera houses were multi-purpose facilities, providing a wide range of entertainments. One of the more popular elements included in many opera houses of the day was a casino. Before, after, and even during the performance on stage, audience members could slip out to the foyer and gamble. Of course, the word “casino” was also an 18th century Italian euphemism for bordello, adding even greater dimension to the structure’s purpose. Thus, the great “La Scala,” opera house, gambling den, and bordello, opened its doors on this very day in theatre history. Honestly, who knew opera could be so much fun?
- Today in Theatre History–THE FIRST AMERICAN-BORN ACTOR? WHO KNOWS?–March 13, 1790
- Today in Theatre History: WILLIAM WELLS BROWN’S “ESCAPE” LEAPS TO FAME–January 30, 1858
- Today in Theatre History: SHERIDAN’S FIRST PLAY, THE RIVALS, GETS A DO-OVER–January 28, 1775
- Today in Theatre History: OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD WITH DOROTHY AND IMOGENE THE COW–January 21, 1903
- Today in Theatre History: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, “A THIRD RATE IBSEN”–January 9, 1905
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