In a bizarre incident Sunday night at the world-famous opera house Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, during a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, the featured tenor Roberto Alagna simply walked off the stage after only twenty minutes. Alagna was booed by a small but very vocal section of the opera crowd prompting him to pick up and leave. His understudy, clad in blue jeans, rushed on-stage to complete the performance. Not surprisingly, the Teatro Alla Scala says it will never allow Alagna to sing on its stage again.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to attend one concert at La Scala in 1995 while we lived in Varese, which is only 45 minutes or so northwest of Milan. The concert was memorable only in how bad it was, but the opera house was stunning and more than made up for the cacophony of sound known as modern symphony which we clearly were not sophisticated enough appreciate.
The Teatro alla Scala was founded, under the auspices of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, to replace the Royal Ducal Theatre, which was destroyed by fire on 26 February 1776 and had until then been the home of opera in Milan. The cost of building the new theatre was borne by the owners of the boxes at the Ducal, in exchange for possession of the land on which stood the church of Santa Maria alla Scala (hence the name) and for renewed ownership of their boxes. Designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala opened on 3 August 1778 with Antonio Salieri's opera L'Europa riconosciuta, to a libretto by Mattia Verazi.