Opera & theatre

Cultural offers in Italy

Opera & theatre

Opera and theatre are the quintessential Italian art form – they were invented in Italy – and Italy has the world’s most demanding fans, who have even been known to boo Pavarotti when he has an off-day!

The country provides a rich selection of operas throughout the year and some of the world’s best and most famous theatres. These include the Teatro alla Scala (known as La Scala) in Milan, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, which are renowned for the technical perfection of their performances and the magnificent detail of their scenery and costumes.

Other major opera houses include the Teatro Petruzzelli (Bari), Teatro Comunale (Bologna), Teatro Massimo Bellini (Catania), Teatro Comunale (Florence), Teatro Comunale (Genoa), Teatro Massimo (Palermo), Teatro Regio (Parma), Teatro Manzoni (Rome), Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi (Trieste), Teatro Regio (Turin) and the Gran Teatro la Fenice in Venice (destroyed by fire in 1996 but since reopened).

The opera season runs from December to June, but summer performances are held in magnificent open-air locations, which include the Verona Arena (July/August), the Terme di Caracalla in Rome (July/August), the Arena Sferisterio in Macerata (July), and the ancient Greek theatres of Taormina and Syracuse (July/August).

Seats for La Scala cost from €10 to €170 but are difficult to obtain, unless you book months in advance (02-809126, www.teatroallascala.org ), although for most performances up to 200 standing tickets are sold for €5 around 30 minutes before the performance – for which people queue for hours in advance of them going on sale.


There’s a strong tradition of theatre in Italy dating back thousands of years, and theatres offer a wide variety of plays and musicals, which are performed in Italian unless there’s a visiting company from abroad.

Italy boasts a vast number of theatres throughout the country, among the most famous of which are the Ponchielli in Cremona, the Carlo Felice in Genoa, La Scala in Milan, Politeama in Palermo, the Opera Theatre in Rome, the Regio Lingotto in Turin and the Fenice in Venice.

In summer, the amphitheatre in Verona and the Terme di Caracalla and Coliseum in Rome offer a series of spectacular plays. Local tourist offices and newspapers provide information on theatrical events, as do billboards and town hall notice boards.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.

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