Arcimboldi Opera Theater at Bicocca

Arcimboldi Opera Theater at Bicocca

Gregotti Associati International
Milan, Italy
Project Year
Concert Halls


Arcimboldi Opera Theater at Bicocca

Gregotti Associati International as Architects

The Arcimboldi Opera Theater was commissioned to join La Scala as the second great operatic theatre in Milan. The program is predominantly classical and operatic, both traditional and contemporary. The program scheduled for La Scala was transferred to Arcimboldi during the restoration project of the ancient Milanese theater under the direction of Piermarini. Inaugurated at the start of 2002, the new theater is the result of the strong need for another musical venue in the Milan metropolitan area. The new theater has been built at Bicocca to serve not only the city of Milan but also the huge northern catchment area that takes in Sesto San Giovanni, Monza, Lecco, Como, and Varese, which has a population of more than 3 million people. It is served directly by public rail and highway infrastructures. The acoustic and architectural projects of the theater formed the basis of the plans for the building right from the start. The stage tower measures 105 x 89 feet and is 108 feet tall. The stage itself is 52 feet wide and 39 feet high, similar in size to that at La Scala so that the same stage sets can be used in both venues. The building as a whole has a surface area of 198,055 square feet (79,652 for the public and 118,403 for the production facilities). The auditorium can seat 2,383 in split-level stalls and two central circles. The walls of the large hall are lined with wood painted red, while the plaster ceiling is designed to produce optimal acoustics. Mobile glass side panels function as both sound deflectors and lighting screens for the hall. The theater structure houses numerous services, including offices, a double rehearsal room for the orchestra and dancers, dressing rooms for extras, orchestra members, the dance troupe, the chorus, and the main performers. There is a restaurant on the lower floor that looks onto a lowered garden. Both La Scala and Arcimboldi will use the stage workshops and rehearsal rooms located in a renovated disused industrial area on the outskirts of Milan. The reception, wardrobe, bookshop, cafeteria, and two foyers that lead to the balconies are all contained in the large entrance hall, which is 49 feet tall and lined on one side by the columns that support the sloping glass covering. The exterior of the theater is finished in pale plaster, with dull blacks and a base in black granite. It opens onto a large square where visitors arrive from the large parking lot, Greco Railway Station, and the metro-tram station. In the Bicocca area, the theater building is a real landmark. Aligned with the lay of the farming land that predates the ancient industrial district, the theater stands out distinct from the regular urban layout. The triangular piazza onto which the theater looks is the site of a café-restaurant and the external ticket offices. A sculpture by Giuseppe Spagnulo stands at the center of the piazza.

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