Milan's La Scala theatre is venturing outside its hallowed walls to offer free, open-air concerts at venues around the northern Italian city in mid-July, director Dominique Meyer announced Tuesday. "It's a sign of recovery, going to meet the public," he told reporters at a press conference, adding that "opera, music and ballet is for everyone". From July 11 to 13, the orchestra, choir and ballet of La Scala will put on 14 concerts around Milan with a repertoire running from jazz to Vivaldi and Donizetti, via Brahms, Bach and Rachmaninov.

All will in some way pay tribute to Argentine composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla, who revolutionized tango by incorporating elements of classical and jazz music in the 1970s and 80s, to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. On July 14, the concerts will conclude with an open day at the theatre comprising a program including Verdi, Rossini and Puccini.

Meyer told AFP the initiative was about "going to meet spectators rather than waiting for them to come to the theatre-people who don't normally go to La Scala either because they were worried about the cost of tickets, or intimidated by the venue".

"It's always the first step that counts, so it's La Scala that is taking the first step," he added, saying that opening its doors was "an exercise in cultural democracy". In the same vein, the theatre has decided to lower the prices of certain subscriptions for the next season. After six months of silence due to coronavirus restrictions, La Scala reopened its doors to the public on May 10. - AFP