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THE HISTORY

The Teatro La Fenice was founded in 1792. In the nineteenth century, the theatre staged the world premieres of numerous operas, including Rossini’s Tancredi, Sigismondo and Semiramide, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) and Beatrice di Tenda, Donizetti’s Belisario (Belisarius)Pia de’ Tolomei, and Maria de Rudenz, and Verdi’s ErnaniAttila, RigolettoLa traviata and Simon Boccanegra

 

In the last century, the Fenice has also placed a special emphasis on contemporary productions, welcoming the world premieres of Stravinski’s The Rake’s Progress, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Prokofiev’s L’angelo di fuoco (The Fiery Angel), Nono’s Intolleranza (Intolerance) and Maderna’s Hyperion. Recent premieres have included Kagel’s Entführung im Konzertsaal (Kidnapping in the Concert Hall), Guarnieri’s Medea, Mosca’s Signor Goldoni and Ambrosini’s Il killer di parole (The Killer of Words)

With a seating capacity for over one thousand people, the Fenice boasts excellent acoustics (which were improved when the theatre was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1996), a 98-member orchestra and 66-person opera chorus, a dedicated local audience and a large international following. The theatre is a leading creative venue, staging more than one hundred opera performances per year, a major symphonic season conducted by prominent conductors from across the globe (including frequent collaborations with Myung-Whun Chung, Riccardo Chailly, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Temirkanov and Dmitrij Kitajenko), the full cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler, a contemporary repertoire focused especially on Venetian artists such as Nono and Maderna, ballets, and chamber music concerts.

The theatre is owned by the Municipality of Venice and managed by the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, a private body whose members include the State of Italy, the Veneto region, the Municipality of Venice and numerous public and private institutions. The foundation also runs a second theatre, the Teatro Malibran (formerly known as the Teatro di San Giovanni Grisostomo), which dates back to 1678.

Superintendent is being currently developed, Artistic Director Fortunato Ortombina and Chorus Master Claudio Marino Moretti.

In keeping with the theatre’s storied history, the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice is proud to stage the most important works of the Italian and international operatic repertoire, including pieces by French, Slavic, British and German composers. (Venice has enjoyed a long-standing, deep-rooted relationship with both Britten and Wagner.) The Foundation also hosts cutting-edge experimental directors while continuing to offer first-rate musical experiences. Furthermore, it conducts ongoing research into contemporary music, commissioning new works and staging Italian and Venetian premieres, and, in collaboration with Italian and international experts, is especially interested in producing Baroque works, particularly those from the Venetian repertoire.

 

In recent seasons, the Foundation has also endeavored to meet another of the goals set out in its statutes by developing new artistic frameworks and promoting emerging young artists. To this end, the Fenice has hired emerging young professionals (including conductors, directors, set designers and singers) to stage avant-garde productions, commissioned young composers to write symphonies and chamber pieces. Furthermore, the Fenice collaborates with leading Venetian educational institutions (including the Conservatory, University and Academy of Fine Arts) and involves students in designing, producing and staging performances, particularly as part of the recently founded Atelier della Fenice at Teatro Malibran.



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1789 - An italian theatre

"The Noble Society of the new Theatre to be erected in Venice on the ground purchased in the districts of S. Angelo and S. Maria Zobenigo has charged its chairmen and assistants with procuring designs and models ..." inviting "both national and foreign architects to compete in proposing the form of a theatre ... that shall be most satisfying to the eye and ear of the audience..."

S
o ran the text announcing the competition for the construction of the Fenice Theatre, published on 1 November 1789, once a way had been found to circumvent a sumptuary law limiting the number of working theatres in Venice to seven. In its fourteen articles, the document established that the future building should contain five tiers of boxes "that are known as pepiano", with no fewer than 35 boxes in each tier. It showed a clear decision in favour of the "small loggias in accordance with the custom in Italy", in order to achieve a result that would offer a fair compromise between the two features generally required of a theatre: fine visibility and good acoustics.

Some said it was a theatrical solution in keeping with Italian traditions; elsewhere, in the eighteenth century, theatres were built to different criteria; in France, for example, the usual system was one of galleries with open boxes above a semi-circular or slightly lengthened area of stalls. It was thus a typically Italian choice, recreating within the building the conditions of an Italian piazza - a natural amphitheatre where people could be both at home and in the open; it also offered the spectator a close view, typical of anatomical theatres. The closed-box system had its disadvantages, but was justified by the fact that the public of the day would never have agreed to forego the comforts of the separate loggias, which made each box a miniature home, where one could sit alone or in company, eat or play, and thus recreate, in a portion of privatized theatrical space, the network of relations and behavior typical of society at that time.