Theaters around the world: Teatro del Giglio

The symbiotic relationship between Teatro del Giglio and Lucca city has lasted for about 4 centuries: from the period that laid the foundations for modern theater, up to the glories of opera, from the belle époque to the horrors of war, from the period of students claims to the era that saw the deconstruction of the narrative elements of representation. A place of elaboration, comparison, sociability and emotions, between Teatro del Giglio and its city there is a complicity made up of exchange, mutual ideas, collective construction of meaning.

The birth of Giglio (which since 1985 has obtained the recognition of Theater of Tradition) dates back to more than three centuries ago, when the Council of the Republic of Lucca established its public theater by decree. Throughout the 19th century, Teatro del Giglio hosted the best theatrical companies of the Italian scene: concerts, dances and, above all, melodrama followed one another on the stage. Giacomo Puccini himself came to Lucca to supervise the work of the staging of some of his operas.

The birth of Teatro del Giglio dates back to more than three centuries ago, around 1600. In that period the most important theatrical activities took place in the “Court Theaters”, subsidized by the prince or the duke, with iImportant shows given in the halls of the great palaces. Two rooms functioned as a theater in Lucca: that of Palazzo Pretorio, known as Sala del Podestà, and that of Palazzo de’ Borghi. The two halls were limited and unsuitable, and the growing development of theatrical art and the audience’s growing needs in a city like Lucca, thriving in trade, commerce and crafts, made the need for a theater felt more and more.

By decree of 19 August 1672, the Council of the Republic of Lucca instructed a Commission of citizens to study the possibility of building a theater by adapting the ancient convent to the church of San Gerolamo (Pope Clement IX had at that time suppressed the order). The architects and theater lovers took care to build a rather large stage and particular measures were devised in the construction of the hall to allow good visibility to the public. On January 14 1675, the solemn inauguration of the “Public Theater” took place, based on a project by Francesco Buonamici and built by the architect Maria Giovanni Padreddio. From one of his documents we learn that the brand new theater measured “sixty braccia in length, twenty-seven from noon and twenty-four from the north in width, and sixteen in height; it had a masonry perspective, the stage as wide as the hall and ten fathoms long; two entrances and three tiers of boxes or small rooms, raised on stone columns, all equally simply furnished, except the middle one which was decorated with decoration to accommodate the most excellent lords of government”.

Read the entire article & many other exclusive interviews here, in the 3rd/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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