The season opens at La Scala in Milan on 7 Dec , with the prima of Zeffirellis new production of Aida; tickets for all performances were sold out on the first day. However, although Italy is where opera was invented, it is also the country where productions are the most expensive in the world. At a conference entitled Diritto all musica held in Rome on 4 December, it was revealed that, whereas the average cost of production at Covent garden in London is 275,000 euros, in Munich 350,000 euros, in Vienna 356,000 euros and in Paris 360,000 euros, the average cost in Milan is 584,000 euros, and the figure is considerably higher for prestigious occasions such as this Aida.

Nor are the tickets cheap; at La Scala tickets range from 30-250 euros, in spite of state subsidies totalling 100 million euros, whereas at the Metropoltitan in New York tickets go from 15-130 euros, with state subsidies totalling only some 40 million euros.