"In many years at La Scala I had never seen anything like what happened tonight," conductor Chailly told reporters after the performance.
The next showing was scheduled for Tuesday night.
Aida tells the story of an Ethiopian princess captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, is torn between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh and in the end is willingly buried alive with Aida.
Calling it the "Aida of Aidas," Zeffirelli has not been shy about hyping his fifth production of the grandiose opera.
The famed director — popularly known for his Oscar-winning 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and the 1977 television mini-series Jesus of Nazareth — has promised his latest version of Aida will go down in the history of the revered La Scala, where it made its Italian debut in 1872.
The public seemed to agree. Though tickets were priced at up to €2,000 (about $3,035 Cdn), all 11 showings sold out within 24 hours.