The Theater, one of the oldest and most astonishing in Northern Italy, was inaugurated in 1813, the year best known to music lovers for the birth of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. The construction work began in 1811 and the project was assigned to the architect Giuseppe Cusi. The hall, after numerous interventions and restorations, currently has the form of a cello box with 5 orders of seats including: 3 orders, for the 72 privately owned boxes, in addition to the royal box, and 2 orders (4th and 5th) as galleries “loggione”. In 1938 the Arena of the Teatro Sociale was transformed into an open-theater, with a structure that hosts up to 4000 people, still used during the Festival Como Città della Musica. Teatro Sociale is also known as “Piccola Scala”, since it hosted the activities of Teatro alla Scala, after the bombing of 1943.
In Como, over the centuries, great singers and musicians performed: from Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran to Toti Dal Monte, Simionato, Favero, Pagliughi, Cigna, Barbieri, Caro- sio, Caniglia, Zeani, Scotto, Olivero, Kabaivanska, Devia, and Tamagno, Gigli, Pertile, Schipa, Merli, Filippeschi, Del Monaco, Tagliabue, Pasero, Bechi, Poggi, Stabile, Bastianini, Rossi Lemeni, Bruscantini, Di Stefano, Bergonzi, Kraus, Dara, Giacomini, Nucci, to name just a few, and, among conductors, several from Arturo Toscanini to Riccardo Muti. Extraordinary were the atmospheres created by the great virtuosos and artists, reported in the chronicles of the time: for instance, in 1823 Nicolò Paganini «made his violin felt in that academy, touched by the fingers of his portentous and sublime genius. From the theater, everyone left, amazed and convinced that others could not reach that talent». In 1837 Franz Liszt performed La serenata and L’orgia. On December 24, 1837, Cosima Liszt, future bride of Richard Wagner, was born in Como, by Franz Liszt and Madame d’Agoult.
From 1st January 2002 the management has passed to AsLiCo. The Theater, is open more than 300 days a year, is part of the OperaLombardia circuit, and organizes and hosts numerous activities: operas, concerts, ballet, different genres and artistic contaminations; the theater is home to “Scuole del Teatro” an artistic educational programme, and to the Competition for Young Opera Singers, which celebrated its 70th edition in 2019, and represents a fundamental step for opera singers.
Among the many projects, planned to reach a new audience, Opera Education which is well-recognized in Europe as an educational best-practice and additionally has received important prizes. It is divided into 5 large macro-activities: Opera -9 (for expectant mothers); Opera baby (for children from 0 to 3 years); Opera kids (for children from 3 to 6 years); Opera domani (from 6 to 14 years old, born in 1996, which reaches more than 3,000 teachers and 150,000 children each year all over Italy and abroad); from Opera smart (for teenagers from 14 to 18 years and under 30).
The Theater is a historical place, open to visitors both in pre-scheduled openings and dedicated guided tours, with a reservation for a minimum of 15 people.
Guided tours are often combined with shows, talks to present the performances, along with tastings of typical local products, and depending on the availability of the artists, it could include access to the backstage; the duration can vary from thirty to sixty minutes, depending on the needs of the participants, who can already benefit from the service in Italian and English. This “experiential” format can be planned in countless ways offering the best possible tour to our visitors.