Lonely Planet review
Giuseppe Piermarini's grand 2800-seat theatre was inaugurated in 1778 with Antonio Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta. It replaced the previous theatre, which burnt down in a fire after a carnival gala. Costs were covered by the sale of palchi (private boxes), of which there are six gilt-and-crimson tiers. When rehearsals are not in session you can stand in boxes 13, 15 and 18 for a glimpse of the jewel-like interior.
Above the private boxes, two loggione (galleries) allow you to peak over the heads of Milanese plutocrats at one of the largest stages in Italy. Occupants of these seats, the loggionisti , are the opera's fiercest critics, famously booing tenor Roberto Alagna off stage in 2006, to be hurriedly replaced by his understudy Palombi who, lacking the time to change into full costume, appeared in his T-shirt and jeans.
In the theatre's museum , harlequin costumes and a spinet inscribed with the command 'Inexpert hand, touch me not!' hint at centuries of Milanese musical drama, on and off stage.