The greatest night of my operagoing life was September 13, 1985. I had badgered my way into the top tier of La Scala for a special, off-season performance of Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims,in the Luca Ronconi production from Pesaro that had introduced the work to modern audiences the year before. It was the worst seat in the house, but the cast was starry — Ricciarelli, Gasdia, Valentini-Terrani, Ramey, Raimondi et al. The opera, once thought irretrievably lost and now miraculously rediscovered, was dazzling. But for me, the most exciting element was the chance to watch Claudio Abbado presiding over an actual opera performance.