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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 13:16 GMT
Milan's opera house to reopen
La Scala
La Scala opera house: Undergoing renovation
La Scala opera company in Milan will perform again on Friday in its new temporary home after falling glass ceiling panels forced its closure last week.

The Teatro degli Arcimboldi closed at the end of January when the panels crashed onto empty seating during a ballet performance.

No one was hurt but the accident overshadowed the debut of the new theatre, already the subject of controversy due to the haste with which some considered it had been built.

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

A view of the new Arcimboldi theatre
Glass panels help improve the sounds

Before the accident at the Arcimboldi, creaking noises were heard from the ceiling.

The audience was evacuated from the auditorium before two of the 100 glass ceiling panels plunged six metres to the floor.

Some trade union representatives said this was the result of hasty building. In the aftermath, the rest of the panels were removed for safety checks.

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

Enthusiastic

Ahead of the opera house's opening, there were concerns over the acoustics and transport services to the new suburban premises.

There was also a fear of change in La Scala's devoted public. Yet, the move to the Arcimboldi last month seemed to pass off smoothly.

La Scala
La Scala performs both opera and ballet

Critics and the audience at the gala first night performance of La Traviata spoke enthusiastically of the new theatre, created out of precious woods, metal and glass.

With 2,400 seats, it holds a bigger audience than the original and offers a similar sized stage, individual electronic subtitlers and other innovations.

However, the honeymoon ended abruptly when during a dance recital the creaking noises were heard.

The state-of-the-art theatre, sponsored by the Pirelli tyre firm, was built in a record 27 months.

It had been due to reopen on Tuesday and outside technicians confirmed it was safe to do so.

But that date was deferred to allow further safety checks and allay the concerns of the trade unions.

La Scala's management says that any cancelled performances will be rescheduled later in the season.

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
31 Jan 02 | Arts
Glass drama at opera house
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