Fondly called "La Fenice" - evoking the myth of the Phoenix bird that periodically burns itself in order to rise again from the ashes as a symbol of eternal renewal - the Venetian theatre has burned to the ground twice since it opened in 1792. Following the first fire, during the night of 12/13 December 1836 it was rebuilt according to the original plans by Tommaso and Giambattista Meduna on a new site, the Campo San Fantin, where it has now been rebuilt following the second fire on the night of 29/30 January 1996, which reduced the theatre to its bare foundations. When the legendary Phoenix finally rose from the ashes again in 2003, its rebirth was celebrated with a series of concerts. Riccardo Muti, musical director of Italy's other world-famous opera house - La Scala, conducted the official inaugural gala concert on December 14th. In the presence of the Italian President, Carlo Ciampi, Muti conducted La Fenice's choir and orchestra together with some of the best Italian singers in an unusual but truly Venetian programme.