Let me start out by saying that this theater is absolutely breathtaking. It is a showpiece in Milan. Visiting the city without a stop here would just be foolish. I highly recommend not only going to Teatro La Scala as a tourist, but also, purchase tickets to a show during your stay. I could not be happier with my decision to go to the opera while we were in Milan. It was a one of a kind experience that was simply unforgettable. That being said, I am going to outline some important considerations to help in your decision making process.
Variety and Price. During our stay, there were three offerings for shows at the Teatro. There was a ballet, opera, and an afternoon symphony. Online you are able to pretty easily navigate the website and check ticket availability and prices. The ballet was by far the most popular event with many of the tickets sold out. The opera and symphony easily had plenty of availability. I watched the tickets in the few weeks prior to the trip, but I did not actually purchase them until we were in the airport lounge in Miami. For me personally, the ballet peaked my interest the most. There were seats available in the balcony boxes with two tickets costing in the neighborhood of 200 euros. In contrast, the Saturday night opera had two similar seats in a box available for around 65 euro. Due to the significant difference, I ended up letting price dictate my decision for which show to see.
Plan ahead. When you are booking your trip to Milan, make a decision early about whether you would like to see a show. I definitely waited too long to purchase our tickets resulting in more limited seating and higher prices. They do have last minute availability, but your experience may not be as favorable if you wait until last minute, mainly because of the seating arrangement. Print your tickets out ahead of time once you purchase them. They send a pdf file and confirmation once you reserve and pay online. Fortunately, the hotel was able to print ours as we purchased them last minute and could not print prior to leaving.
Seats. This is probably the most important piece of information that I can pass along. I told myself that I would be thrilled to attend an event here and, quite frankly, my actual seat did not matter. What I learned is your actual seat does matter. If you do not have the two seats in the balcony directly in the front, you will not be able to see without standing up the entire event. When purchasing multiple seats in a box, make sure that your tickets include these front seats. We actually chose one seat in the second row and then the seat directly behind it. This could have been a disaster. Fortunately, the other three seats in the box remained empty during our time there. We took over the two front seats and this made all the difference. These individuals in front also control the translation boxes, if you so choose to utilize them. There is also floor seating available, which would provide a great view. The floor seating was taken when we purchased our tickets, but the balcony boxes provide a fantastic and one of a kind view if you can secure the front two seats.
Timing. If you do not get there on time, you will not be allowed into your box. When the opera started and we only had two people in our box for five, I was thrilled. I knew the only time they could be allowed in was during intermission. Leave plenty early in order to make it on time. We were about one minute away from ruining our experience and spending half of the night in the hallway. The opera that we attended had an intermission about one hour into the show.
I included some photos from the Opera Die aegyptische Helena ScalAperta that we attended. Opera is not something that I frequent, so I may not be the best judge of comparison. Overall, I thought this was an experience of a lifetime. The music was beautiful. The stage and atmosphere of the theater was incredible. I would most definitely attend another performance here on a repeat visit to Milan.
In summary, unless you are interested in a specific performance, I would let the seat itself dictate your decisions. I would have regretted a seat in the crowded ballet that left me standing the entire time. If you choose balcony seating, the two front seats are the key to enjoying the show.