Teatro della Pergola, Florence, Italy

The Teatro della Pergola is a historic opera house in Florence, Italy Built between 1652 and 1656 by a group of Florentine nobles interested in the cultivation of the arts called the Accademia degli Immobili, The Pergola was the first theater in Italy to be built with boxes encircling the auditorium Built as the theater for the court for the presentation of operas, it opened to the public in 1718 The theater hosted some of the largest and most important operas of the time, from Vivaldi to Meyerbeer, in addition to large balls and parties for which it became famous Around and below the main areas of the theater there a number of other spaces that create the “City of the Theate

It is located in the centre of the city on the Via della Pergola, from which the theatre takes its name It was built in 1656 under the patronage of Cardinal Gian Carlo de’ Medici to designs by the architect Ferdinando Tacca, son of the sculptor Pietro Tacca; its inaugural production was the opera buffa, Il potestà di Colognole by Jacopo Melani The opera house, the first to be built with superposed tiers of boxes rather than raked semi-circular seating in the Roman fashion, is considered to be the oldest in Italy, having occupied the same site for more than 350 years

The Pergola was the first theater in Italy to be built with boxes encircling the auditorium Built as the theater for the court for the presentation of operas, it opened to the public in 1718 The theater hosted some of the largest and most important operas of the time, from Vivaldi to Meyerbeer, in addition to large balls and parties for which it became famous Around and below the main areas of the theater there a number of other spaces that create the “City of the Theater”, where life and commerce begins and where the workers stop to sleep

It has two auditoria, the Sala Grande, with 1,500 seats, and the Saloncino, a former ballroom located upstairs which has been used as a recital hall since 1804 and which seats 400

Work on completing the interior was finished in 1661, in time for the celebration of the wedding of the future grand duke Cosimo III de’ Medici, with the court spectacle Ercole in Tebe by Giovanni Antonio Boretti Primarily a court theatre used by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, it was only after 1718 that it was opened to the public In this theatre the great operas of Mozart were heard for the first time in Italy, and Donizetti’s Parisina and Rosmonda d’Inghilterra, Verdi’s Macbeth (1847) and Mascagni’s I Rantzau were given their premiere productions

In the first half of the 1800’s the Pergola was the temple of classical Italian melodrama, the theater of Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi At the end of the century a transformation began on the stage of prose, thanks to the presence of the actress Eleonora Duse By the nineteenth century, La Pergola was performing operas of the best-known composers of the day including Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi Verdi’s Macbeth was given its premiere performance at the Pergola in 1847

The Pergola’s present appearance dates from an 1855-57 remodelling; it has the traditional horseshoe-shaped auditorium with three rings of boxes and topped with a gallery It seats 1,000 It was declared a national monument in 1925 and has been restored at least twice since

Today the theatre presents a broad range of about 250 drama productions each year, ranging from Molière to Neil Simon Opera is only presented there during the annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

In 1942 the Immobili surrendered the Pergola to the Italian State and was managed by the Ente Teatrale Italiano until 2011 In the 60’s it became the lace for excellence in Italian prose, where Eduardo De Filippo and Vittorio Gassman triumphed Their mission continues today: looking to the future with historic values which are at the heart of the Teatro Pergolar”, where life and commerce begins and where the workers stop to sleep In the first half of the 1800’s the Pergola was the temple of classical Italian melodrama, the theater of Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi At the end of the century a transformation began on the stage of prose, thanks to the presence of the actress Eleonora Duse In 1942 the Immobili surrendered the Pergola to the Italian State and was managed by the Ente Teatrale Italiano until 2011 In the 60’s it became the lace for excellence in Italian prose, where Eduardo De Filippo and Vittorio Gassman triumphed Their mission continues today: looking to the future with historic values which are at the heart of the Teatro Pergola

The theater was erected with a wooden structure in 1656 by Ferdinando Tacca (son of the sculptor Pietro Tacca) on behalf of the Accademia degli Immobili, presided by Cardinal Giovan Carlo de ‘Medici, starting from 1652, with an opening when he was still in Completion course during the carnival of 1657, with the first absolute of the funny work The podestà of Colognole by Jacopo Melani. In 1658 the first ever works of the Hipermestra works by Francesco Cavalli and The Crazy For The Force of Melani and in 1659 The Old Melani’s Balord. The work was completed in 1661 when the theater celebrated the wedding of the future Grand Duke Cosimo III with Margherita Luisa d’Orléans with the show Ercole in Tebe by Melani. It is considered the first big stage theater with overlapping (“Italian”) stages, whereas until then (like at Vicenza’s Olympic Theater) the ancient tradition of semicircular decreasing stairs has always been followed. Specifically, he had a series of columns “raised” cabinets. For the first time, the oval, more acoustic sound was also experimented. The theater was in a wooden structure and featured a large stage with an elegant arched; the order of stages was three, supported by an open loggia on the auditorium where the fixed benches formed two sectors bordered by balustrades and destined to separate the male and female audience. At the center of the hall of mistiline forms, the stage with the throne of the cardinal protector and his guests was over.

The novelty of the palette was greatly appreciated, though sometimes their “intimacy” caused some problems: academics often required silence in the “parlors”, or to limit the consumption of food during dinner, which spilled effluvients throughout the theater.

The theater, which later became the “Grand Ducal Theater”, was later affected by various transformations: in 1688 (project of Filippo Sengher), with the closure of the colonnade space, a fourth order of stages was obtained; after that in 1718 the Real Estate Academics had definitively redeemed the property from the Art of Wool, a massive theatrical activity was rewarded with the support of Grand Duke Cosimo III. For the following years several works and improvements have been documented, but the most important intervention was undertaken between 1753 and 1755, when Giulio Mannaioni’s design of the wooden structures of the room was particularly risky considering that lighting was exclusively entrusted at the fire of candles, were replaced by masonry structures; on that occasion Antonio Galli Bibiena performed the pictorial decorations of the environment as well as a series of new scenery. In 1789, always on the project of the Mannaioni and the direction of work by Luca Ristorini, a fifth order of stages was added.

In the 1800-1804, on the project still at Ristorini and under the direction of architect Giuseppe Salvetti, the music hall called “Saloncino” was built in the building on the east side of the theater. The present forms, however, are essentially the work of Bartolomeo Silvestri (1820 and 1828) and Gaetano Baccani, who in 1855-1857, among other things, made the new entrance and vestibule at the theater, coffee and foyer. In 1834 Antonio Meucci, a Pergola trainer, installed in the theater the first “acoustic telephone” of history (mechanical transmission, not yet electric) to communicate between the various theater venues.

The IV and V order of stages were demolished in 1912 to create a logo, capable of bringing the theater capacity to 1,350 viewers. Always on this occasion, the decorations of the theater were rebuilt: the golden stuccoes by Gino Papini, the entrance gallery at Saloncino and the bas-reliefs and the new paintings of the entrance, respectively made by Giovanni Giovannetti and Michele Garinei. After being declared by the Ministry of Education as a “national monument of interest” (1925), in October 1942 it was transferred from the Academy of Real Estate to the newly established Italian Theater Authority for Folk Culture, which is still today owner. Thus began a new stage in the life of the theater that made him one of the protagonists of the Florentine and national theater initiatives. There are other important renovations and adaptations to the new requirements and safety law. In 1948-1949, the theater experienced an important restoration by architect Nello Baroni and engineer Simonetti, with the total renovation of the furnishings and the transformation of the real stage. Following the damage caused by the 1966 flood, the building was then subjected to a complex structural consolidation project designed by architect Luigi Caliterna, widely documented in the publication of 1967: replacement of wooden roofs of the roof and stage covers by steel trusses, the consolidation of foundation and masonry; reconstruction of reinforced concrete of the loggione; total remodeling of the plate in both the supporting structure and its covering and armchairs; Rafting of floor planes and side corridors; complete refurbishment of the solarium and access hall, foyer and wardrobe floors; dismantling and refurbishing of the supporting structures of the stage.

After the resumption of its activities in December 1967, Pergola continued its intense and qualified theatrical activity up to the present day, when new adaptation works were required, dating back to 1984 to 1988, which were included in the three-year plan of Tuscany Region with FIO funding. Under the direction of architect Enrico Nespiga for the architectural part and engineer Giancarlo Troise for the part of the plant have been made the reconstruction of the steps and armrests of the loggia, the adaptation of the thermal and electrical system.

Today, with the theatrical activity of both the Saloncino and other halls under the piano floor, the theater has expanded its potential. Due to its functional features as well as the formal and aesthetic features, the Pergola Theater still confirms today a leading role in the panorama of the theatrical spaces not only of Florentine but also of Tuscan and Italian.

In 2002, Pergola is among the founding members of the Florence of Theaters, a category association whose first director will be Marco Giorgetti.

From June 2010, it was managed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (MIBAC), which replaced the abolished Italian Theater Authority. In January 2011 the property was transferred to the Municipality of Florence; the structure and its activities are currently managed by the Fondazione Teatro della Pergola, which is made up of the Municipality of Florence and the Cassa di Risparmio of Florence.

Among the great ones to go on the Pergola stage, let’s remember the sparkling duo: Seve and Ciap.

Outside, the structure is basically neoclassical, with a new iron shelf: this facade should be replaced by a new one designed in 1873 by Telemaco Buonaiuti (replaced by the death of Baccani as an architect of the Academy of Real Estate ), which in fact only restored this, the oldest. Stained with salmon (“with a seemingly non-Florentine taste”, note Bargellini and Guarnieri), the long facade comes with two main entrances to the ends, designed to allude to two classical fronts and attributable to the yard of 1855 directed by Gaetano Baccani . The central body has no characterizing elements, evolving by eleven aisles arranged on three floors, and repeating a situation already determined in 1789. The main entrance is the number 30, enriched by a beautiful iron roof made by Oficina Ridi (1912 ). On the right of this entrance is a plaque (posted by the City in 1901) with an epigraph that recalls the first representation of Macbeth, written for this theater and directed by Giuseppe Verdi on the evening of 14 March 1847.

“Through this entrance you can access the reception rooms at the northeast corner of the building: the elegant rectangular space of the atrium with stucco decorations and neoclassical bas-reliefs and two large canvases; a vaulted staircase with lacunari leads to the sumptuous vestibule of the columns, from which a second monumental staircase leads to the gallery and salon floor.The hall still has a distinctive lifting system that allows it to be brought to the stage of the stage to create a unique setting for large ball parties. Boccascena opens the traditional red velvet curtain with a manual opening to the Greek. Behind the rear, mounted on actionable shutters, there is a painted curtain with an opening to the German. The orchestra hole, which enters below the prosceno for 1,30 m, when it is not used by orchestras it can be covered with the piano of the plateau “(Piero Marchi).

In the basement there is a small museum with numerous memorabilia. Antiques are also the dressing rooms and the test rooms, and on the back there are still the remains of an eighteenth-century street with the gates of some small shops serving the actors and stage musicians.

In this theater was born the genre of the so-called melodrama, from which the real opera was developed. In the eighteenth century it was one of the best theaters in Italy and Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo attended it assiduously. Numerous were the first important ones, from the music of Luigi Cherubini or Christoph Willibald Gluck, or in the nineteenth century the absolute absolute of Parisina d’Este by Gaetano Donizetti with Domenico Cosselli, Carolina Ungher and Gilbert Duprez in 1833, the first absolute Donizetti Rosmonda of England with Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani and Duprez in 1834 and Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi, in the twentieth century Joseph Orhideus and Eurydice by Joseph Haydn. In April 1893 Antonino Palminteri, conductor and composer, directed La Pergola Fratz’s friend Pietro Mascagni and Carmen of Georges Bizet, the success was so great that the press expressed: “The hottest I should pay tribute to the orchestra and to her new director, Mr. Palminteri, who knew how to transpire a momentum, a vigor, a truly spectacular color. ” .

The Pergola Theater Salon set up in 1997 an exhibition of stage costumes – available from the Tirelli and Cerratelli collections – by renowned Italian costumists for theatrical, cinematographic and television performances. The exhibition analyzed in particular the iconographic models of reference for costumers.

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