SIRACUSA MUNICIPAL THEATER | EXHIBITION OF CULTURE
The Syracuse Municipal Theater presents an impressive and elegant prospect, an ideal architectural frame for a place that represents the cradle of intellectual culture and entertainment. You will miss the masks and the mussels painted on the vault of the great hall.
Syracuse can boast two great theatres: the Greek Theatre and the Teatro Comunale, or City Theatre. Each has its own distinct architecture and its own way of presenting the theatre experience.
The Teatro Comunale of Syracuse is a classic example of 1800s Italian theatre-monuments. It plays an important role that is as symbolic as it is physical, because in the collective imagination of Syracusians the theatre represents the city’s ultimate place of culture and intellectual exchange.
The idea of building a theatre in Syracuse dates to the late 1700s and can be attributed to Count Tommaso Gargallo (1760-1843). But it was only in 1872, long after his death, that the first stone was actually laid. It took 25 long years to build, but some of the great classic operas of the time were performed there: Faust, Gioconda and Rigoletto. The last opera dates to 1958, Cavalleria Rusticana. Four years later, the theatre was closed. It would take more than fifty years of slow restoration work before it was once again opened.
The building’s architecture presents a range of styles from neo-renaissance to neoclassical. The main façade looks out on Via del Teatro with a neo-renaissance addition that juts forward to shelter waiting carriages. The Foyer is on the upper level and has wide quadrangular double-lancet windows. This is where the audience was entertained before and after the show, and during intermission. The inside boasts the classic interior of an Italian theatre, with a horseshoe shaped hall featuring audience seating in the middle surrounded on three sides by balconies, an orchestra pit and stage that went further back into the building than previous ones ever had. The theatre was originally designed to seat 1022 spectators, but today it can seat 476 in the three rows of balconies, the gallery and some 200 in the stalls.
Via del Teatro, Siracusa, SR, 96100
Full ticket: € 5,00
Reduced ticket: € 3,00
(under 18/over 65/Family/Military and law enforcement)
Disabled with accompanying person
tel. +39 329 24 17 142
PAINTED DECORATIONS AND VESTIBULE
When it came to decorating the inside of the theatre, architect Giuseppe Damiani D’Almeyda turned to the same artisans he had worked with at the Politeama of Palermo, including Gustavo Mancinelli for the painted decorations. The team was guided by Almeyda and they renovated the theatre with an eclectic classic ornamental motif typical of XIX century Italian theatres, borrowing from a range of styles that goes from the Classic world to Pompeian and modern Art Nouveau. In the solid coloured neoclassical medallions in the vestibule, Mancinelli portrayed such great Syracusians as the siculian poet and playwright Filemone, and the comedy writer Sosicles. The frieze, on the other hand, depicts the Eleutrian Feasts that were celebrated in various places in ancient Greece to honour Zeus Eleutherios. The three great Murano glass chandeliers were donated by Dolce & Gabbana who, in 2014, chose this theatre to launch their new perfume, Dolce.
THE MAIN HALL
All of the paintings in the main hall were done with tempera on canvas and attached to the wooden panel with a thin layer of gesso.
In the parapets of the stage are dancing Pompeian cherubs and garlands, classic portraits of men and women and flowing floral art nouveau ornamentation.
The elegant decorations along the walls of the stage depict the columns of liberty and hold, on high, the figure of the winged Nike or winged Victory. The forestage is embellished with the Classical theatrical masks representing tragedy and comedy, while in the centre two angels hold up an eagle with spread wings, the emblem of the city of Syracuse.
The paintings on the ceiling have a trompe-l’oeil effect and depict the allegory of the arts. Mancinelli broke through the ceiling of the theatre, if you will, depicting a circular balustrade that then opens to the sky, a new world in which we find three large female figures around a crown of laurel (the sacred plant of Apollo, god of music, poetry and the arts in general) and musical instruments: the lyre and the trumpet as allegories of music. The winged cherubs become allegories and symbols of the arts: of architecture, poetry, painting and dance.
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