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La Scala Opera House Orchestra, Milan

This orchestra gave its first performance when Milan’s Teatro alla Scala opened it’s doors in 1778.  Within just a few decades it had risen to become Italy’s primary opera house and by the 1830s it was the place to go for the major operas of the day and gaining a huge international presence.

They were first led by the conductor Alberto Mazzuccato in 1854 and by 1872 the impact the orchestra made due to its consistent high quality of performances led to it starting to give concerts in its own right under the leadership of Franco Faccio.  By 1878 they were in France to give a tour in Paris when they gave a performance at the Exposition.  The huge success of this meant that the Societa Orchestrale della Scala became a permanent concert organisation that held two annual concert seasons with Faccio maintaining his position as their leader.

After nearly two hundred years of performances La Scala became Ente Sutonomo del Teatro alla Scala which was a self-governing organisation formed in 1920.  Before long they had hired Arturo Toscanini to be their artistic director and during the time of his tenure, which ended in 1929, he enlarged the orchestra members so there were 100 musicians.  During these years the orchestra regularly toured internationally and gained even more recognition throughout the world.

Since the Toscanini years there have been many other acclaimed conductors who have worked with the orchestra that include Carlo Maria Giolini from 1954 to 1956, Claudio Abbado from 1968 to 1986 and Riccardo Muti from 1987 to 2005 and Daniel Barenboim from 2005 to 2011, when he was named Maestro Scaligero.  In 2011 he continue with the orchestra when he was named their music director for a tenure of a further five years and was succeeded by Riccardo Chailly.

In the Abbado years he was involved in the re-organisation of the ensemble into a Philharmonic and it became known as L’Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in 1982.  Today the orchestra comprises 135 musicians.

Since 1987,  under the leadership of Riccardo Muti,  Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Chailly respectively, the orchestra has played host to many of the world’s noted guest conductors for concert performances.  Just a few of these include Leonard Bernstein, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Valery Gergiev, Herbert von Karajan, Zubin Mehta and Seiji Ozawa.

They have given many premiere performances and their recording output, which is in excess of 1200 titles, includes releases of their own albums as well as featuring on numerous compilations.