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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - While Italy's well-heeled glitterati await the season's gala opening of La Scala on Sunday, the budget-minded 20-something set will get a rare treat - a pre-season performance of "Don Carlo" for 10 euros a ticket.
With much of La Scala's opera goers middle-aged or older, the house will perform the opera on Thursday -- three days before the traditional opening date -- for those aged up to 26.
The 10 euro ticket is far below the normal opening night price of up to 2,000 euro for a chance to rub shoulders with presidents and prime ministers.
"Don Carlo" is Giuseppe Verdi's 1867 opera about a tortured love affair in the 16th century Spanish royal family.
"It is important to perform an opera like this going straight to the characters' hearts," conductor Daniele Gatti told a news conference on Wednesday.
Stephane Braunschweig, in charge of staging and set, said he was keeping the set simple.
"Like this more force is given to the music," he said. "The characters are more important than the decor."
The December 7 gala opening was at risk of cancellation because of strikes and protests but the house's management on Monday reached a deal with a performer's union saving the premiere. The inaugural performance is seen as the social and musical highlight of the year, attracting statesmen, bankers and businessmen from around the world.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is among those expected to attend along with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Italian media have speculated soccer player David Beckham could make an appearance but this seems unlikely seeing he has a game in New Zealand for Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.
His wife Victoria Beckham has also been rumored to attend, with media saying she may want to check out the city her husband will move to in January for a three-month loan to AC Milan.
Reporting by Ilaria Polleschi, editing by Paul Casciato