Opera is serious business in Milan. At the city's legendary Teatro alla Scala (also called La Scala theatre), even the most successful tenors have been known to leave the stage with their scales between their legs after a savage reaction from the loggione - the standing-room only space that holds opera's most feared critics.

Taking in an aria or two in the opulent surrounds of La Scala is the ultimate Italian experience, a fascinating match of popular enthusiasm and high culture. A visit to the museum will give you some background information.

Milanese opera season starts on 7 December, but you need to book at least a month in advance. The opera season at Teatro alla Scala runs until July, with event tickets on sale two months in advance. Get practising your fischi (mocking whistles) now.

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