Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 25, 2012

The cheap seats

Yesterday in Milan we were walking past La Scala and we noticed that La Boheme was playing that night. We were informed that the ticket office would open at 6.00pm to sell tickets for the performance.

At 6.00pm we were there and were able to buy tickets in the gallery for €12… offer too good to refuse.

We arrived for the 8.00pm performance and made our way up the many flights of steps to the top floor gallery. The seats didn’t offer much of a view, but what can you expect for €12?

The theatre is magnificent, the sets were amazing, the musicians were fabulous, the voices were wonderful, but about now you can call me a philistine, because I still don’t like opera. Now that I can speak some Italian I can understand some of the words. I’m not so sure this is a good thing, they don’t actually say much that is worthwhile. I think it was better when I just listened to the lovely voices.

I am pleased I went, it was a great experience, but I won’t be going there again for opera……perhaps the ballet would be more my style.

Here is the interior of La Scala from our position in the gallery. Of course I can’t show you the performance, no photos are allowed, and my camera behaved itself.







We had to stand up if we wanted to see the whole stage……that’s what you get for buying the cheap seats.


  1. What a beautiful theatre. Worth the money just to see inside. Hope you get to see something more to your liking in this stunning setting soon.

    • It was definitely worth going to this incredibly beautiful place.

  2. Blayne and Helen always go to La Scala, what luck you found seats for so little even if you did have to stand at times.

    • I think this must always be on offer. It was a great experience even though I wasn’t thrilled by the opera.

  3. What a beautiful theatre Debra….I, too, am not that fussed on opera…but I would love to see La Scala one day!

    • It is worth going just to see the theatre.

  4. SPECTACULAR pictures. I love them!!! Do you know that after 15 years in Milan, I’ve only been to La Scala once for an opera? The museum is great fun though…my children love it. La Boheme…hmmm…doesn’t it have a spectacular consumptive death scene in it? Lots of high notes replicating a tubercular demise?

    • I will have to go to the museum next time I am in Milan.

  5. what a visual feast, worth every cent. You sure do get around Italy!

    • It was a great experience, it was a lucky thing.

  6. Hi Debra… I used to go to Covent Garden on a regular basis with the elderly Russian colleague who first introduced me to the Bagni di Lucca/Barga area of Tuscany. We used to sit ‘up in the Gods’ very cheaply. Sounds as if it was a very similar experience to the one you had at La Scala! Similarly, the Promenade Concerts held every year at the Royal Albert Hall in London… The cheap ‘promenade’ tickets actually allow you to sit on the floor at the very top of the building!

    However, I love opera, and La Boheme is one of my favourites! Ballet does nothing for me at all! Each to their own………

    • We could see quite well if we perched on the back of the seats or stood up. It is a beautiful theatre.

  7. I love La Boheme – having seen it many times, I still cry at the end – Laurie & I saw a performance at La Scala so for an operaphile it was heaven – what the voice can achieve never fails to amaze me –

    • I didn’t cry, heartless wretch that I am.

  8. I love music and the arts, but I still haven’t been to my first opera or ballet … but at least ballet intrigues me a little. Nonetheless, seeing something in such a beautiful venue is a treat in itself.

    On a side note, Music Hall is Cincinnati’s historic venue. Comparatively, it’s huge … (the German’s in the late 1800s had a grand vision). However, there are plans to downsize it.

    • The sets were amazing, it was certainly spectacular even if I didn’t like the opera.

  9. You were really lucky, Debra! Even if the seats were not the best, just to be at “La Scala” for a “La Bohème” performance is a rare treat. And you can’t be serious about not being an opera fan. With your artistic sensitivity you can’t be immune to it.

    • I am quite immune to the delights of opera. I do like the performances in the churches in Lucca, but these are the most recognisable songs.

  10. How far is Milan from Bagni ? What a fabulous city . Jan and I only spent a day there this summer but plan on going back on day. I am in Seattle will,head back to Perth in November.

    • I left Ponte a Serraglio on the 7.50am bus, caught the fast train in Florence and I was in Milan by 12.40…..not bad.

  11. That was me Deb,, Judi Troncoso

  12. Still, you were in Milan at La Scala! Even philistines can appreciate that.

    • This philistine appreciated it.

  13. La Boheme at La Scala. Makes my insides ache with longing.

    • Now I feel guilty.

      • oh dear <:-D no guilt! you appreciated the situation enough to cough up money to see opera!

  14. Ah, incredible that you snagged such cheap tickets!!! What a fantastic theater. We have a super-miniature version of this theater in my baroque Sicilian village–fits fewer than 100 people!

    • Our little theatre in Bagni di Lucca is also a copy of La Scala, on a much smaller scale.

  15. OMG, what a magnificent theatre, Deb! Stunning. What else can one say?

    • It is gorgeous, I was happy just to be there.

  16. Such an interesting discussion about opera La Scala and Le Boheme. It has taken me many years to really warm to opera. Over the years, friends who enjoy opera and my husband Dan in particular, have enabled me to really enjoy and love it.

    Part of that has been getting good seats in settings that were good for the particular opera. So I would say that there is a problem about getting cheap seats, in which you can’t get the real benefit.of the performance. I have found that getting good seats where you can see and hear is worth doing every now and again..

    I have never been to La Scala. It does look very grand, similar to the Royal Opera House in London. This gives me an idea for Dan’s birthday present. There are many operas I would like to see in La Scala,. La Boheme is not one of them. I think it is really a very intimate opera and is best seen in smaller more intimate venues, I have seen it in a number of settings. My favourite was in the very small Soho Theatre, in the traditionally bohemian district of London. That was fantastic and very cleverly done. I would think as it’s Puccini;s, there are many opportunities to see it in and around Lucca and Bagni di Lucca or Barga maybe which is a sweet little theatre. Also you can hear selected arias in Lucca almost every week,

    I’ suspect that you are right that your effort to translate didn’t help. I have found that In opera, the meaning and quality is in the music and voice – not in the literal words which often seem a bit silly or not worth the effort of translation. Read the programme so you have the gist of the story and then just listen to the music and enjoy the spectacle. of acting, movement, staging, costume.. .

    • I go regularly to the performances in Lucca, I love those, but it is only bits from opera, not the whole thing. I can cope with that.

  17. I have to say that I, too, am not a fan of opera 🙁 People I meet cannot believe it since both my parents are Italian…but not all Italians are opera lovers! I did not grow up with it and therefore I don’t think I ever formed an ear to it. I much prefer Italian pop, and even those cheesy Italian classics like “O Sole Mio” and “Volare” to opera. Nonetheless, I have been inside the La Scala opera house and can only imagine what a spectacular theater this must be for opera…just like the Verona amphitheater. I think I could enjoy the spectacle of the scenes, costumes, and such very much! Everyone tells me that if I know the story beforehand, I could learn to love opera, but I have yet to give it a chance. Hmmm, perhaps one day I, too, will give it a try with some cheap seats! That was good shopping on your part!

    • I don’t think I will be learning to love opera any time soon.

  18. Wow 12 euro for seats at La Scala. I was recently in Venice at the Fenice no Opera and payed a lot more just for a tour, but it was worth it the Fenice is beautiful.

    • I was happy just to have the chance to be there.

  19. Even not being a huge fan of opera, the I am jealous of the experience…

    • The experience was great….and what a bargain!

  20. Wow, looks amazing! I agree – I would love to see the ballet there, not so sure about opera… but just to have the chance to see this must have been a great experience 🙂

    • It was fun. I would go back, but not for opera.

  21. Gosh it’s pretty, isn’t it? And how great to be able to go for such a reasonable fee. My husband agrees with you about opera, but I’ve always quite liked it. You’re right, though, once you know what they’re saying, it’s often pretty mundane.

    • It was much better when I couldn’t understand what they were singing about. At one point they were singing about the parsley on their dinner!!!!!

  22. What an incredible building and setting for an opera! We have Opera in the Park and sometimes they subtitle it for everyone 🙂

    • I think it is best just to go with the music and not think about what they are saying.

  23. I’ve been to 2 or 3 operas at the Met and Lincoln Center in Manhattan, but I have to say that even though I enjoyed it, I’m still not one of the converted. One thing I wish I’d done in Milan was go to La Scala, but the season had already ended. Despite not being an opera lover, I still would have enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for sharing your photos. Now at least I got to see the inside of the opera house.

    • I doubt that I will ever be an opera fan, but I can appreciate the spectacle.

  24. Debra, as Peggy Gosling said, dont translate, just read the synopsis, sit back (if you are up there ‘with the God’s’), close your eyes and let the music and voices take you away. JO and I envy you, La Boheme for Euro 12/-. But sorry classical music does not grab you. A few years ago Jo took me to Vienna just to see La Traviata on my birthday – one of the most wonderful moments. Of course we stayed another 2 weeks to ‘discover’ Vienna itself. Btw, had no idea you are so close to Florence. Ciao Carina

    • I do like classical music. I go regularly to the concerts in Lucca held in a couple of the beautiful churches. They sing various songs from opera and I love it, but a whole opera I find dreary and slow.

  25. Still a great experience…when in Milano. And great people watching potential I’m sure…. Where were you staying? x

    • We stayed at Hotel Nuovo in Piazza Beccaria, really close to the Duomo….great.

  26. It must be a marvelous experience no matter where you sit (or stand)!

    • It was very special to be at La Scala, even standing up.

  27. Wow! I don’t understand opera either, but I would go just for the atmosphere! Thank you for sharing these images Debra 🙂

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