If, for some inexplicable reason, you found yourself being catapulted back to a late-sixteenth-century theatre, you would discover a performance very different from the one you would see today.

Theatres were built of wood, lit by candles and heated with braziers; at the back of each box, every noble family kept a cook, ready to cater to their whims. So it is quite understandable why theatres quite commonly caught fire. This was the end that the Teatro alla Scala’s “ancestors” met: first the Salone Margherita, then (twice) the Regio Teatro Ducale. It was after one of these fires, that the box owners, the great noble families of the day, decided that Milan had to have a its own great municipal theatre, no longer a prerogative of the nobles but of the people, too.

So, on 3rd August 1778, on the degraded area of the Church of Santa Maria della Scala, began the story of the Teatro Grande alla Scala. And this time, it was finally built of bricks and mortar.