MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Milan's venerable La Scala is giving up its 200 standing-room-only spots, beloved by some of the opera house's most ardent and least affluent fans.

Fire safety concerns have authorities shutting off the space at the rear of the gilt-and-plush balconies, starting when performances resume Tuesday after the summer break.

That shuts the standees out of the coming season's celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi, Italy's foremost opera composer.

Opera-goers will be allowed back into the space, though probably in regularly assigned seats, after completion of a two-year renovation due to start at the end of 2001.

Performances will be held at another Milan house while the 222-year-old La Scala is closed for repairs.

For the 2000-2001 season, La Scala's capacity is reduced to 2,015 seats.

Opera fans used to line up for hours for last-minute standing-room-only tickets, at $5 the cheapest spots in the house. The least-expensive tickets will now cost between $25 and $40, while top tickets for opening night can run up to $1,500.