Bet­ter dig out the Pucci for the Puc­cini

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - La bo­hème, The Daily Tele­graph

CEL­E­BRATED opera house La Scala in Mi­lan ex­pects a cer­tain de­gree of deco­rum, but guardians of the elite in­sti­tu­tion have been ap­palled at the shabby state of au­di­ences this sea­son.

In­stead of don­ning jack­ets and even­ing dresses, ticket hold­ers are turn­ing up as if dressed for the beach, as tem­per­a­tures reach 35C or more dur­ing one of Italy’s hottest sum­mers for years. The worst cul­prits are for­eign tourists but even Ital­ians ar­rive in shorts, miniskirts and san­dals.

Afi­ciona­dos were ap­palled this month to see a group of ca­su­ally dressed US stu­dents, who at­tended a per­for­mance of eat­ing burg­ers and chips from McDon­ald’s at in­ter­val. It was “as if they were at a vil­lage food fes­ti­val”, said one out­raged opera vet­eran on Face­book.

The 239-year-old theatre’s dress code is spelt out on its web­site, in Ital­ian and English: “Peo­ple wear­ing shorts or sleeve­less T-shirts will not be al­lowed in­side the au­di­to­rium; in this case, tick­ets will not be re­im­bursed.”

But La Scala’s ush­ers have come up with a less dra­co­nian re­sponse, ad­vis­ing peo­ple to nip around the cor­ner and buy a pair of trousers or a longer skirt from a high street fash­ion store.

“We ad­vise them to go to H&M, which is not far away,” said one usher. “The for­eign­ers mostly rush off to the shop. But the Ital­ians of­ten get re­ally an­gry.”

Paolo Be­sana, La Scala’s spokesman, said: “Most peo­ple re­spect the rules but it’s sum­mer and so some come in T-shirts and shorts. Our au­di­ence is quite tra­di­tional and it’s im­por­tant for them to see other peo­ple be­ing well dressed. It has to do with re­spect for the place and re­spect for oth­ers. Just be­cause it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t be el­e­gant.” He said. Jok­ing, he said so many tourists had rushed off to H&M that “we should ask for a com­mis­sion from them”.

De­bate rages over whether La Scala should open it­self up to a broader spec­trum of opera go­ers.

“If some­one turns up in jeans and san­dals, who cares?” one opera fan wrote on Face­book. “What counts is that they are there to ap­pre­ci­ate the mu­sic.”

But Natalia Aspesi, a so­cial com­men­ta­tor, said La Scala was “the only place in Mi­lan, and maybe in Italy, in which it would seem ap­pro­pri­ate to wear a jacket and tie”. — ©

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