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La Scala Woos a Younger Audience

Even an iconic opera house like La Scala must create programming to build the audience of tomorrow. One-third of today’s audience is under 55 years old. But Dominique Meyer, the artistic director and chief executive, is determined to make the house even younger.

Since 2009, the theater has offered operagoers under 30 the possibility of attending previews of performances, which are usually reserved for private audiences, and a pass, which gives access to backstage tours, workshops and more. The subscription package, Under30, grants four performances for the price of one and the opportunity to meet artists at a happy hour.

Mr. Meyer credited the efforts of his predecessors Stéphane Lissner and Alexander Pereira for their efforts, noting that the subscribers are “very faithful.” He wants to make sure, however, that they remain so: The house’s internal surveys have revealed that audience members between 30 and 40 are the hardest to retain.

“It is not as if one’s salary suddenly becomes three times as big when you turn 30,” he explained. “All of a sudden, they have to pay full price, and the tickets are not as good as before.”

As such, starting next season, the house will offer loges to those 35 and under at 50 percent of the normal price (370 euros to 920 euros, or $396 to $986, for a four-person loge).

There will also be weekly performances offering half-priced tickets — including the opportunity to enjoy free drinks and socialize in specially reserved areas. (Tickets at normal price run up to €150 euros for ballet and €250 for opera.)

“Every opera lover has made friends during a performance,” said Mr. Meyer. “We want to support this kind of communal environment.”

He also hopes to “open the theater’s doors” to new potential audience members. Last July, the house orchestra, chorus and ballet toured different parts of the city as part of the initiative La Scala in Città (La Scala in the City), offering free tickets.

On one occasion, in the Porta Romana District, dancers performed at Mysterious Baths, the swimming pool and cultural event center, in a program of excerpts from works by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Léo Delibes, Ólafur Arnalds and more.

Mr. Meyer recalled that the only problem were the mosquitoes, which pestered the dancers, especially when they had to hold still. La Scala in Città will be repeated this September on a larger scale, including the young singers of the opera house’s academy, ballet school and children’s choir.

This season also saw the launch of the subscription package Un palco in famiglia (A loge for the family), for which adults pay full price and can bring their children for 10 to 15 a head. Materials designed especially for minors are distributed at performances.

Meanwhile, since 2014, the theater has mounted productions made for children, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors. This season featured a children’s version of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” (“Cinderella”), which was also streamed on La Scala’s website.

Next season will, for the first time, feature a newly commissioned work, “Il Piccolo Principe” (“The Little Prince”), based on the classic French children’s novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. All productions are under one hour so that young visitors don’t grow bored, and they include child performers to further stimulate interest in the art form.

The house has welcomed back most of another audience sector: tourists. They now make up 22 percent of total listeners, down from 30 percent before the pandemic.

Mr. Meyer says that while visitors from Asia and Russia have not returned, the Europeans — and the Americans — are back. Of this group, the largest fraction (18 percent) is from Switzerland, followed by France (14 percent) and the United States (13 percent). The cities best represented are Vienna, Paris, London and New York.

“If we are diligent and continue,” said Mr. Meyer, “we are certain to win a new audience.”

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