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THEATRES

Teatro La Fenice di Venezia

Teatro La Fenice di Venezia

Teatro La Fenice

At the end of the eighteenth century, queen of opera thanks to its long-standing historical and artistic tradition, Venice had no less than seven opera houses: S. Salvador (later called Apollo, S. Luca and today the Goldoni), S. Cassiano, S. Angelo and S. Moisè; there were another three theatres that belonged to the Grimani family – S. Giovanni Grisostomo (today the Malibran), S. Samuele and S. Benedetto (today the Rossini). The latter, once the most elegant and popular theatre, was destroyed in a fire in 1771. As soon as it had been rebuilt, it became the object of a legal dispute between the company that owned the new theatre and the Venier family, who owned part of the land. The Venier family won the case and the company was forced to sell the theatre, but they decided to build another that was to be much bigger and more beautiful.
La Fenice was the name of this new opera house, to symbolise the splendid revival of the company from their misfortunes. Twenty-nine projects were presented at a meeting of the partners and the one chosen was that by Giannantonio Selva (1753-1816).
Once work had been finished in April 1792, the opera house was inaugurated on 16 May with the opera I giochi di Agrigento by Giovanni Paisiello to a libretto by Alessandro Pepoli. Ever since, La Fenice has stood out as one of the greatest opera houses in both Italy and Europe and, thanks to the premières of countless masterpieces, became part of the history of melodrama.
Gioachino Rossini debuted at La Fenice on 6 February 1813 with Tancredi, his first ‘heroic’ masterpiece. He was to write another two operas for La Fenice: Sigismondo (27 December 1815) and Semiramide (3 February 1823), one of the greatest of Rossini's dramatic works and his last Italian opera before he moved to Paris. Of Vincenzo Bellini’s ten operas, two were written for La Fenice:I Capuleti e i Montecchi (11 March 1830) and Beatrice di Tenda (16 March 1833). Gaetano Donizetti, on the other hand, wrote three operas for the Venetian opera house: Belisario (4 February 1836), Pia de’ Tolomei (18 February 1837) and Maria de Rudenz (30 January 1838).
La Fenice was destroyed in a fire in the night between the 12th and 13th December in 1836 and the Company decided to go ahead with its reconstruction immediately. This delicate task was entrusted to the hands of the brothers Giovanni Battista and Tommaso Meduna, both famous architects, while the equally delicate task of the decorations fell to Tranquillo Orsi. On the evening of 26 December 1837, just like the mythical winged animal, La Fenice rose again in even greater beauty and splendour, continuing its path with renewed vigour.
Teatro La Fenice's website: www.teatrolafenice.it
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