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FARNESE THEATRE - TEATRO FARNESE - PARMA
Escapes | Theatre | Attraction | culture
The Teatro Farnese (Farnese Theatre) is one of the most breath-taking sites in all of Parma if not of Italy.
Built in 1618 by order of Ranuccio I, duke of Parma and Piacenza, and designed by the ferrarese architect, Giovan Battista Aleotti, the theatre was built to celebrate the passing of Cosimo II de’ Medici through Parma on his way to Milan to visit the tomb of San Carlo Borromeo and to confirm the relationship between the two ducal families which had been sealed by marriage in 1615.
However due to health problems, Cosimo II de’ Medici cancelled the proposed trip to Milan and therefore the theatre could only be inaugurated 10 years later in 1628 for the marriage between Margherita de’ Medici and the Duke Odoardo.
For the occasion the theatre hosted the “Mercurio e Marte” (Mercury and Mars) by Claudio Achillini and music by Claudio Monteverdi.
The climax of the spectacle came with a extraordinary “naumachia” (naval battle) for which they flooded the platea of the theatre via a number of pumps located underneath the stage.
The theatre also featured a balcony for the Dukes, perhaps the the invention of what would become common place in the greatest theatres around the world: the Royal Booth.
The Farnese Theatre was built entirely out of wood and plaster and the painted so it seemed to be made of expensive marbles.
Unfortunately the Theatre was subject to bombing in May 1944 and was almost completely destroyed, however by 1956 the theatre was completely restructured using the original design.
The sections that were restructured were left bare so as to highlight the extent of the damage.
Due to the complicated nature and the extremely high expenses needed to put on a show in the theatre it was only used nine times from its inauguration, mostly for ducal marriages or important state visits.
The last show dates back to 1732, after which it is left to ruin until the bombardment of 1944.
In between this time many greats came to visit the theatre and express their complete surprise at its beauty, among them Montesquieu, de Brosses and Dickens; all of them however also expressed displeasure at the state of the wonderful theatre Dickens actually writing about it in his “Pictures from Italy”.
The theatre is part of the incredible Palazzo Pilotta in Parma and is part of the attractions in the Galleria Nazionale.
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