The Theatre - The History | Teatro La Fenice


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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 and Artistic Director is 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.


2003 - The (Re)opening

To celebrate the re-opening of the historical Theatre, the Teatro La Fenice foundation and the Municipality of Venice, in association with the Region of Veneto, organise a week of musical events in the new Fenice.
In the presence, on the royal stage, of the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and broadcast live on television, Riccardo Muti opens the Inaugural Week in the newly renovated La Fenice Theatre on 14th December 2003, with the Orchestra and Choir of La Fenice theatre.

The concert begins with a well-wishing page of: The consecration of the house by Ludwig van Beethoven, followed by a program marked by the great tradition of Venetian musical civilization; of Igor Stravinskij, composer who rests in the cemetery of the San Michele island, the Salmi Symphony, followed by the Te Deum by Antonio Caldara, Venetian composer and protagonist of the artistic life of the lagoon city between the 17th and 18th century. The evening ends with Three Symphonic Marches by Richard Wagner, who was very attached to Venice for having holidayed here many times and created the second act of Tristan and Isolde and part of Parsifal here in addition to having conducted one of his young Symphonies in 1882 in the Apollinee Rooms of La Fenice. The voice soloists are Patrizia Ciofi, Sara Allegretta, Sonia Ganassi, Sara Mingardo, Mirko Guadagnini, Roberto Saccà, Michele Pertusi, Nicolas Rivenq.
On 15th December, La Fenice hosts a concert of the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Thielermann. More Richard Wagner during the second evening which opens with the Prelude of the first act of Lohengrin, followed by the Intermezzo of Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini. Then more Wagner with the Vorspiel and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. The evening closes with two symphonic poems by Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung and Till Eulenspiegel.
The participation of the Orchestra and Choir of the Santa Cecilia National Academy of Rome and the Choir of Voci Bianche Aureliano, on the third evening of the inaugural week, Wednesday 17th December is due to the wish of Luciano Berio, who died on 27th May 2003, expressed in a letter to Giampaolo Vinello, the Superintendent of the La Fenice Theatre foundation. Conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, they perform Symphony no. 3 by Gustav Mahler, with the soloist Petra Lang.

Thursday 18th sees the first ever performance of Ouverture, work written especially for the event by Emanuele Casale, a young composer from Catania The Orchestra and Choir of La Fenice Theatre conducted by Marcello Viotti then present a tribute to composer and orchestra conductor from Venice Giuseppe Sinopoli, with the performance of Lou Salomè Suite n. 2. The evening ends with Viotti conducting the Messe Solennelle by Gioachino Rossini with vocal soloists Sara Allegretta, Sara Mingardo, Mirko Guadagnini, Nicolas Rivenq.
On 19th December, the stage of La Fenice Theatre welcomes Elton John, one of the most representative and famous pop artists in Europe.
For the first time in Venice, the Wiener Philarmoniker, conducted by Mariss Jansons, are the protagonists of the concert of the 20th December with the performance of the overture de Euryanthe by Carl Maria von Weber, followed by Symphony no. 2 by Robert Schumann and Pictures at an exhibition by Modest Petrovic Musorgskij.

The Opening Week draws to a close on 21st December with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yuri Temirkanov. The master, guest many times of La Fenice Theatre of which he is particularly fond, returns with his own orchestra to perform the 4th Symphony by Poetr Ilic Cajkovskij and Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinskij.

The month of La Fenice
by Paolo Costa, Lord Mayor of Venezia

When we think about La Fenice, today, we feel the exciting sensation of anticipation of a long-awaited event. A moment for which many people have worked with intelligence and skill, commitment and perseverance. The re-construction and re-opening of the theatre to the city and to music is the result of collective work, which has engaged the Administration, companies, all those, individuals and committees, who have collected funds and organised events. Reconstructing La Fenice is a symbolic fact for the city. For two reasons. First of all because it means that Venice has the energy, the strength and the ability to face the difficulties and tackle them and win, in other words it is a live and vital city able to express a real will to change. Then, because it means that even in an objectively difficult logistically complicated situation, characterised by innumerable technical problems, it is possible with vigour and decisiveness, to obtain excellent results quickly following all the procedures required for carrying out the public work. The programme entitled “Il mese della Fenice” (the month of La Fenice) shows that the entire city takes part joyfully in this event. The cultural institutions bear witness to to this by giving ideas and resources to go along side its rebirth, demonstrating to have participated in all these years to the succession of emotions which have marked the history of our theatre, from the anguish of the night of the fire and the subsequent hopes and delusions during its reconstruction, to the most delightful and significant moment. We must be happy, satisfied and grateful.

Greeting of the Minister of National Heritage and Culture
Giuliano Urbani

On 29th January 1996 the entire world witnessed with astonishment the terrible fire that devastated La Fenice Theatre of Venice, one of the locations that has made history of our opera and symphonic music. Today, the eyes of the world contemplate its resurrection, thanks to the positive and active collaboration between the State and Civic Administration, to the proven experience of who managed the restoration work and to the intense skilful work of hundreds of labourers, craftsmen specialised in stucco, marble, wood, metal and plaster work. The extraordinary all-Italian appraisal of the restoration of the cultural, artistic and monumental patrimony, with our excellence in the technique of restoration work which brings much international prestige to the Country, has responded to a difficult challenge: hand-back to Venice, as it was and where it was, La Fenice Theatre. Now it is up to all of us, representatives of Institutions and citizens, to contribute to and animate the life of this great cultural asset, a life which has shown itself to be much stronger than the adversities.

La Fenice Press Office