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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 18:35 GMT
Glass drama at opera house
Albanian soprano Inva Mula (left) as Violetta Valery and South American tenor Marcelo Alvarez (right) as Alfredo
The venue is home to opera and ballet
A large glass panel crashed onto seating during a ballet performance at the new temporary home of the La Scala opera house in Milan.

No-one was hurt as the panel, one of 100 attached to the side walls of the new Arcimboldi theatre, crashed onto empty seating on Wednesday during a performance of the ballet Excelsior.

A view of the new Arcimboldi theatre
Glass panels help improve the sounds
The performance had to be abandoned as a result and the production will now resume on Friday.

Questions are being asked about the safety of the 2,400-seat Arcimboldi Theatre in northern Milan which was built in just 27 months to be ready for the start of the Milan opera season, which began in December.

Improve acoustics

Technicians had already repaired cracks in the glass panel six metres above the seating, and had moved people sitting there to alternative seats.

The movable glass panels are designed to improve acoustics at the theatre.

In a statement the opera house has said that the remaining panels would be removed "to guarantee absolute safety while awaiting the results of evaluations which are under way".

Milan state prosecutor's office said it was assessing whether to open a criminal enquiry.

Milan's famous opera company, La Scala, inaugurated a new theatre to replace its legendary venue, which has been closed for renovations.

There were mixed reactions from members of Italy's elite and opera fans to the new opera house.

Opera experts have criticised the quality of the sound, despite the moveable, glass acoustic panels.

La Scala's renovation is expected cost $49m - more than the construction of the Arcimboldi.

See also:

20 Jan 02 | Europe
La Scala moves house
06 Dec 01 | Arts
In pictures: Milan's La Scala
27 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Giuseppe Verdi: Symbol of Italy
03 Oct 01 | Arts
Conductor given Russian honour
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Birmingham's opera for the masses
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