The Fat Lady Sings


Poor Mario Botta. No one likes his newest building, the renovation of Milan’s La Scala Opera House. The original theatre had staged the first nights of operas by Verdi and Puccini, but was just too cramped to accomodate today’s performances. The most controversial component of the 3 year, 20% over budget renovation, is the 38-meter-high elliptical tower. (Silly Mario Botta. You alread did that at the San Franciso MoMA and the Evry Cathedral.)

Architecture Historian Kurt Forster describes the tower as “…an annex which is not in harmony with what already exists and is also not a sign of the new millennium.” A sign of the new millenium? I had no idea that was a requirement for new buildings. Carlo Fontana, the general manager of La Scala, defends the design: “The argument is pointless because without being renovated, La Scala has no future.” Oh wait…no, he doesn’t defend the design. So let’s summarize: A reheated idea, an over budget project, widespread public disapproval, and a building that in no way signifies this grand new century.

UPDATE: An article from Salon.com describes yesterday’s opening night, where the theatre was “Decked out in red roses and surrounded by riot police.” Unfortunately, most people weren’t protesting the new building, but were there in opposition to fur-wearers and the theatre’s budget. Opening night was quite the event in Milan, attended by celebrities such as…um, The King of Norway and Umberto Eco. oh, and The Guardian has pictures