Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
The Teatro dell'Opera di Roma (Rome Opera House) is an opera house
Opera house
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building...

 in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. 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 original Costanzi Theatre, 1880 to 1926

The Teatro dell'Opera was originally known as the Teatro Costanzi after the contractor who built it, Domenico Costanzi (1810-1898). It was privately 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
Semiramide is an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini.The libretto by Gaetano Rossi is based on Voltaire's tragedy Semiramis, which in turn was based on the legend of Semiramis of Babylon...

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. Originally, the theatre, with a seating capacity
Seating capacity
Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...

 of 2212, had three tiers of boxes, an amphitheatre, and two separate galleries, surmounted by a dome with splendid frescoes by Annibale Brugnoli.

Costanzi was obliged to manage it himself and, under his direction, and despite the fact that he had to deal with various financial problems, the opera house held many world premieres of operas, including Cavalleria rusticana
Cavalleria rusticana
Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from a play written by Giovanni Verga based on his short story. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on May 17, 1890 at the Teatro...

by Pietro Mascagni
Pietro Mascagni
Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni was an Italian composer most noted for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music...

 on 17 May 1890. For a brief period, the theatre was managed by Costanzi's son, Enrico, who gained prominence by having organized another great premiere, Tosca
Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900...

by Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

 on 14 January 1900.

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
Emma Carelli
Emma Carelli was an Italian operatic soprano who was particularly associated with the dramatic soprano roles of the verisimo repertoire and the works of Richard Wagner....

, became the managing director of the new Impresa Costanzi, as the theatre was later known, following various changes in the company structure.

During the fourteen years of her tenure, major works which had not been performed before in Rome (or even in Italy), were staged at the Costanzi. These included La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by the American author David Belasco. Its highly-publicised premiere occurred in New York City in 1910...

, Turandot
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

and Il trittico
Il trittico
Il trittico is the title of a collection of three one-act operas, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini...

by Giacomo Puccini; Parsifal
Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail.Wagner first conceived the work...

by Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

; Francesca da Rimini
Francesca da Rimini
Francesca da Rimini or Francesca da Polenta was the daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna. She was a historical contemporary of Dante Alighieri, who portrayed her as a character in the Divine Comedy.-Arranged marriage:...

by Riccardo Zandonai
Riccardo Zandonai
Riccardo Zandonai was an Italian composer.-Biography:Zandonai was born in Borgo Sacco, Rovereto, then part of Austria–Hungary....

; Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov (opera)
Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky . The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. Its subjects are the Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar during the Time of Troubles,...

by Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

; Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns
Camille Saint-Saëns
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony...

 and many others. Also, Diaghilev's Les Ballets Russes also performed there.

The Royal Opera House, 1926 to 1946

In November 1926 the Costanzi was bought by the Rome City Council and its name was changed to Teatro Reale dell'Opera. It was partly rebuilt by architect Marcello Piacentini
Marcello Piacentini
Marcello Piacentini was an Italian architect and urban theorist.-Biography:Born in Rome, he was the son of architect Pio Piacentini...

 in the following fifteen months and re-opened on 27 February 1928 with the opera Nerone
Nerone (Boito)
Nerone is an opera in four acts composed by Arrigo Boito, to a libretto in Italian written by the composer. The work is a series of scenes from Imperial Rome at the time of Emperor Nero depicting tensions between the Imperial religion and Christianity, and ends with the Great Fire of Rome...

by Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...


The rebuilding resulted in a number of major changes. The entrance, originally located in the street formerly known as Via del Teatro - where the garden of the Hotel Quirinale is presently situated - was moved to the opposite side, where Piazza Beniamino Gigli was subsequently built. The amphitheatre, inside the theatre, was demolished and replaced by a fourth tier of boxes (now the third tier) and the balcony. The interior was also embellished by new stuccowork, decorations and furnishings, as well as a magnificent chandelier measuring 6 meters in diameter and composed of 27,000 crystal drops.

The Rome Opera House, 1946 to present

Following the end of the monarchy, the name of the opera house was changed to Teatro dell'Opera, and in 1958, the building was remodeled and modernized once again by the Rome City Council. Once again, the architect Marcello Piacentini drew up the plans, radically altering the existing architectural style and designing the present facade, entrance and foyer.
The Theater's legendary acoustics can still bear comparison with any other auditorium in the world. The present seating capacity is about 1,600, and 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
Norma (opera)
Norma is a tragedia lirica or opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with libretto by Felice Romani after Norma, ossia L'infanticidio by Alexandre Soumet. First produced at La Scala on December 26, 1831, it is generally regarded as an example of the supreme height of the bel canto tradition...

starring Maria Callas
Maria Callas
Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great dramatic gifts...

, given in the presence of The President of Italy. Due to health problems, Callas abandoned the performance at the end of the first act. The post-war period also saw celebrated productions, including Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

's Le nozze di Figaro in 1964 and Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

's Don Carlos
Don Carlos
Don Carlos is a five-act grand opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien by Friedrich Schiller...

in 1965, both conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
Carlo Maria Giulini
Carlo Maria Giulini was an Italian conductor.-Biography:Giulini was born in Barletta, Italy, to a father born in Lombardy and a mother born in Naples; but he was raised in Bolzano, which at the time of his birth was part of Austria...

 and directed by Luchino Visconti
Luchino Visconti
Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo was an Italian theatre, opera and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter. He is best known for his films The Leopard and Death in Venice .-Life:...

. From 2001 to 2010, the music director and chief conductor of the company was Gianluigi Gelmetti
Gianluigi Gelmetti
Gianluigi Gelmetti is an Italian conductor and composer.He studied conducting with Franco Ferrara, Sergiu Celibidache and Hans Swarowsky. He first conducted an orchestra in Siena at age 16....

. He was due to be succeeded in these posts by Riccardo Muti
Riccardo Muti
Riccardo Muti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI is an Italian conductor and music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.-Childhood and education:...

, as announced in August 2009, but the Neapolitan conductor demurred, citing in La Repubblica in October 2010 "general difficulties that are plaguing the Italian opera houses".

Opera company's summer venue

The outdoor theatre at the Baths of Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy were Roman public baths, or thermae, built in Rome between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the Emperor Caracalla.- History :...

, with the Roman ruins as the backdrop, is the venue for the opera company's summertime presentations in Rome.

External links

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