Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Italy

The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma (Rome Opera House) is an opera house in Rome, Italy Originally opened in November 1880 as the 2,212 seat Costanzi Theatre, it has undergone several changes of name as well modifications and improvements The present house seats 1,600

The “Teatro dell’Opera di Roma” was named Teatro Costanzi from its construction in 1879 to the purchase by the Governorship of Rome in 1926, taking the name after Domenico Costanzi (1810-1898), the contractor who build it and who entrusted the realization to the Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini (1836-1900) It was erected in just eighteen months in the site where the ancient Elagabalus’ Villa stood, and it was inaugurated on 27 November 1880 with a performance of “Semiramide” by Gioacchino Rossini Sfondrini paid particular attention to the theater acoustics, conceiving the the interior structure as a “resonance chamber” as can be seen from the horseshoe shape

The Teatro dell’Opera was originally known as the Teatro Costanzi after the contractor who built it, Domenico Costanzi (1810-1898) It was financed by Costanzi, who commissioned the Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini (1836-1900), a specialist in the building and renovation of theatres The opera house was built in eighteen months, on the site where the house of Heliogabalus stood in ancient times, and was inaugurated on 27 November 1880 with a performance of Semiramide by Gioachino Rossini

Designing the theatre, Sfondrini paid particular attention to the acoustics, conceiving the interior structure as a “resonance chamber”, as is evident from the horseshoe shape in particular With a seating capacity of 2,212, the house had three tiers of boxes, an amphitheatre and two separate galleries, surmounted by a dome adorned with splendid frescoes by Annibale Brugnoli

Costanzi was obliged to manage the theater himself Under his direction, and despite financial problems, the opera house held many world premieres of operas, including Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni on 17 May 1890 For a brief period the theatre was managed by Costanzi’s son, Enrico, who gained renown by organizing another great premiere, that of Tosca by Giacomo Puccini on 14 January 1900

In November 1926 the Costanzi was bought by the Rome City Council and its name changed to Teatro Reale dell’Opera A partial rebuilding ensued, led by architect Marcello Piacentini and lasting fifteen months The house re-opened on 27 February 1928 with the opera Nerone by Arrigo Boito

Chief among several major changes was the relocated entrance, from the street formerly known as Via del Teatro (where the garden of the Hotel Quirinale is now) to the opposite side, where Piazza Beniamino Gigli exists today In addition, the amphitheatre inside the theatre was replaced by a fourth tier of boxes (now the third tier) and the balcony The interior was embellished by new stuccowork, decorations, and furnishings, including a magnificent chandelier measuring six meters in diameter and composed of 27,000 crystal drops

Following the end of monarchy, the name was simplified to Teatro dell’Opera and, in 1958, the building was again remodeled and modernized Rome City Council again commissioned architect Marcello Piacentini, who radically altered the building’s style, notably with regard to the facade, entrance and foyer, each of these taking the form we know today

The theater’s legendary acoustics still bear comparison with any other auditorium in the world The seating capacity is about 1,600 The house was retrofitted with air-conditioning subsequent to a restoration, which provided improvements to the interior The stucco work was completely restored, the great proscenium arch strengthened, and a parquet floor of solid oak blocks laid to replace the previous one

Pietro Mascagni was a frequent visitor of the Opera, of whom he was also artistic director in the season 1909-10 and gave him several premieres, such as the Rustic Cavalry on May 17, 1890, Friend Fritz on October 31, 1891, Iris in 1898 with Enrico Caruso, Masks on January 17, 1901, and then Lodoletta in 1917. Giacomo Puccini gave Costanzi the first of Tosca on January 14, 1900 (of which 9 March 2004 was re-presented the historical set-up), the first Italian of the The girl of the West, directed by Arturo Toscanini in 1911, and still the first Italian of Gianni Schicchi in 1919. Ruggero Leoncavallo presented the first of Maia in 1910; ten years later Riccardo Zandonai gave you the first of Juliet and Romeo. Lastly, on January 5, 1952, the Sakunala of Franco Alfano was first staged, the reconstruction of the previous Sakuntala legend on stage at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna on December 10, 1921 and of which the score was lost during the second World War.

Here was the first Italian of Igor Stravinskij’s bird of fire, represented by the Russian Ballets Company of Sergei Diaghilev on April 9, 1917. Also the American Ballet Theater and Sadler’s Wells today Royal Ballet performed on the Roman stage from the post-war period, as well as the Soviet stars Rudolph Nureev, Natalya Romanovna Makarova, Vladimir Viktorovich Vasilev, Ekaterina Maksimova.

The Theater has also since 1928 its own dancing school, and the stable dance body has always had a very popular ballet season in the city and beyond. In the 1950s, Attilia Radice and Guido Lauri danced at the first absolute of the main ballets of tradition, to be then destined for the direction of school and company respectively. Some examples of the many celebrities that have performed dance performances over the years are: Erik Bruhn, Zarko Prebil, Roland Petit, Majja Michajlovna Pliseckaja, Carla Fracci, Paolo Bortoluzzi.

The various executive firms that led the theater until 1926, for reasons related to economic problems and the conception of a job in which the constant was the precariousness and the saltiness, did not form a stable orchestral complex. A turning point was imprinted in 1905 for the will of the communal councilor Conte Enrico di Sanmartino, who convinced the City Council of Rome to create the Municipal Orchestra consisting of a hundred elements, many of them coming from the Municipal Band, becoming the Orchestra of the The Costanzi Theater until 1926. The modification of Costanzi in the Royal Opera House, pushed the theater executives and mainly the municipal administration to decide to create a stable orchestral complex, even though with a seasonal contract. In 1935, the City of Rome, through the Vice Governor Marchese Dentice d’Accadia, as Artistic Director, decided the overall staff of the Theater Workshops, determining the Orchestra in 143 items including the band’s professors.

In 1907 the Teatro Costanzi was purchased by the impresario Walter Mocchi (1870-1955) on behalf of the Società Teatrale Internazionale e Nazionale (STIN). In 1912 Mocchi’s wife, Emma Carelli, became the managing director of the new Impresa Costanzi, as the theatre was later known, following various changes in the company structure.

In November 1926 the Costanzi was bought by the Rome City Council and its name changed to Teatro Reale dell’Opera. A partial rebuilding ensued, led by architect Marcello Piacentini and lasting fifteen months. The house re-opened on 27 February 1928 with the opera Nerone by Arrigo Boito.

Chief among several major changes was the relocated entrance, from the street formerly known as Via del Teatro (where the garden of the Hotel Quirinale is now) to the opposite side, where Piazza Beniamino Gigli exists today. In addition, the amphitheatre inside the theatre was replaced by a fourth tier of boxes (now the third tier) and the balcony. The interior was embellished by new stuccowork, decorations, and furnishings, including a magnificent chandelier measuring six meters in diameter and composed of 27,000 crystal drops.

Above the proscenium arch is a plaque commemorating the rebuilding: “Vittorio Emanuele III Rege, Benito Mussolini Duce, Lodovicus Spada Potenziani, Romae Gubernator Restituit MCMXXVI—VIII””

Following the end of monarchy, the name was simplified to Teatro dell’Opera and, in 1958, the building was again remodeled and modernized. Rome City Council again commissioned architect Marcello Piacentini, who radically altered the building’s style, notably with regard to the facade, entrance and foyer, each of these taking the form we know today.

The theater’s legendary acoustics still bear comparison with any other auditorium in the world. The seating capacity is about 1,600. The house was retrofitted with air-conditioning subsequent to a restoration, which provided improvements to the interior. The stucco work was completely restored, the great proscenium arch strengthened, and a parquet floor of solid oak blocks laid to replace the previous one.

On 2 January 1958 the theater was the venue for a controversial performance of Norma starring Maria Callas in the presence of the President of Italy: for health reasons, Callas abandoned the performance after the first act.

The post-war period saw celebrated productions, including Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 1964 and Verdi’s Don Carlos in 1965, both conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini and directed by Luchino Visconti.

The Choir of the Opera of Rome participates in the artistic life of the Costanzi since 1935 for the will of Tullio Serafin, Artistic Director of the then Royal Opera House.

From August 1, 1937, the Governor of Rome, Piero Colonna, decided that the Opera Theater will conduct an outdoor summer season in July and August, set in the archeological complex of Caracalla’s Baths, which became the largest stage in the world. The audience had 8,000 seats. The first season had five performances in total, three by Lucia of Lammermoor and two by Tosca. In 1938, the works were six (La Gioconda, Mefistofele, Aida, Lohengrin, Isabeau directed by the composer and Turandot) for a total of 28 performances, from 30 June to 15 August. The audience was brought to 20,000 seats. The lyric performances set up here have always had great public success, favored over the years by mass tourism. The installations at the Terme were interrupted during World War II since 1945, and then for a decade since 1993 to allow important restorations of the Roman walls, and the archaeological setting was replaced occasionally by the Olympic Stadium. Since 2001 the summer season has been restored in the original setting.

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