Teatro alla Scala Museum

Largo Antonio Ghiringhelli. (Open Map)


The identity of La Scala in the 19th century can be seen from the period prints and objects in this very unusual collection.
The museum consists of a number of collections, but the exhibits on show in the fine halls are just a small part of the complete heritage, most of which is conserved in archives for use by scholars. Nonetheless, the Theatre's history can be explored in the portraits, busts and objects linked to the singers, musicians and conductors who contributed to La Scala's fame worldwide.
There are portraits of Giuditta Pasta, Bellini’s muse, with her languid upturned eyes, and of Malibran in a legendary costume for Rossini’s 1834 Desdemona. There are busts of choreographer Viganò and tenor Tacchinardi. Boito’s pen, Puccini’s watch, and Rossini’s glasses. There are many pieces of Verdi memorabilia, such as the first spinet that the composer owned, the handwritten score for the “Requiem” for Manzoni’s death, a letter to Boito announcing that he had completed Otello, and the composer’s grand piano. There are many more curious items: locks of Bellini’s blonde hair, Mozart’s dark curls, a cast of Chopin’s hand, and another of that of the divine Eleonora. There are also exhibits regarding the diva Maria Callas and the legendary Pavarotti.
The central core of the Museum’s exhibits regarding Western opera is mostly from the collection accumulated by Giulio Sambon, an antiques expert from Naples though with French origin, and a regular spectator at La Scala. He moved to France in the early 20th century, and decided to auction his collection in 1911. An emergency committee was founded in Milan to collect a sufficient sum of money, and this included the Municipality, the Government, and many private donors. Negotiations were conducted by letter and telegram, and by means of a journey to Paris. The starting figure was 700.000 lire (a very large sum at that time), and the committee succeeded in reducing this to 450,000.
There is a portrait of Barbaja, who was Rossini’s manager. His fame is in part due to a form of hot chocolate that is still a speciality in Milan: barbagliata.
One of the exhibits in the La Scala Museum is a 17th century spinet, with a warning above the keyboard, “Mano inesperta non mi toccare”, (not to be touched by inexpert hands), made by Onofrio Guaracino. The soundbox cover was painted in 1669 by Angelo Solimena, a skilled painter from Salerno.
The locations of the Museum’s archives include the Giuseppe Verdi Foundation Musicians’ rest home, as well as the collections open to the public.