Better dig out the Pucci for the Puccini
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”. — ©