The Scala Theater is one of the most famous theaters in the world and is known as 'the home of opera'. It is located in Piazza della Scala, which took the name from the Church of Santa Maria della Scala, built in 1381 and demolished to make place for the theater. The theater was founded by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1776 after a fire destroyed the Teatro Regio Ducale, which until then housed the opera. The cost of building the new theater was borne by the owners of the boxes of the Teatro Regio Ducale in exchange for the renewal of the ownership of the boxes. The project was entrusted to the architect Giuseppe Piermarini. The building was opened August 3, 1778 in the presence of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este, the first performance was Europe, a work of Antonio Salieri. In the nineteenth century the nobles entered the theater at about six o'clock in the afternoon (even if the show started at midnight), and their servants prepared the dinner in small kitchens behind the stage. The stalls was used as a dance hall and the floor could be lifted to make more space. If the show included a naval battle, the stalls was completely filled with water. The Scala was bombed in 1943 and suffered serious damage to the ceiling, walls and roof. The building was then immediately rebuilt as before the war, and was reopened on 11 May 1946, with a memorable concert by Arturo Toscanini. After the war the theater lived a magical season, thanks to Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. In the 70s the theater staged nearly 300 performances a year, while today it produces about 284. In the Scala Theater most of the major opera singers had sung: Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi Leyla Gencer, Antonietta Stella, Ettore Bastianini, Mario del Monaco, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Franco Corelli, Tito Gobbi, Renato Bruson, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Plácido Domingo, Teresa Berganza, Joan Sutherland, Katia Ricciarelli, Montserrat Caballe, Jose Carreras, Marilyn Horne, and many others. The major orchestra directors had been Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Carlos Kleiber, Zubin Mehta, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Georges Pretre, Daniel Barenboim and many others.