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Teatro la Fenice, Venice 

Teatro La Fenice

La Fenice theatre (Teatro La Fenice) is one of the most famous theatres in Europe. From the beginning it was the official theatre of the Venetian aristocracy. On November 1, 1789, a competition was announced to design and construct the Fenice Theatre. After a long debate, Giannantonio Selva was chosen as the architect. The theatre was completed in April 1792. It replaced the original San Benedetto theatre that was built in 1774, but was Destroyed by fire. After a dispute broke out between the company that managed it, and the owners, the theatre company decided to build a new opera house on the Campo San Fantin. Construction began in June 1790 and was completed in 1792. It was named “La Fenice” (The Phoenix), in an allusion to the company’s survival from the fire and the loss of its former site. On May 16, 1792, the theatre was officially inaugurated with Giovanni Paisiello’s opera “I Giochidi d’ Agrigento” with libretto by Count Alessandro Pepoli. The new theatre immediately took on a position of absolute prominence in the lagoon city.

In December 13, 1836, disaster struck again when the theatre was destroyed by fire. However, it was quickly rebuilt and reopened its door to the public on the evening of December 26, 1837 with a performance of the opera “Rosmunda in Ravenna” by Giuseppe Lillo, along with the ballet, “Il ratto delle venete donzelle” by Antonio Cortesi. Then in 1844, Giuseppe Verdi, associated with La Fenice, opened with a performance of “Hernani” during the carnival season. Over the next 13 years, this theater hosted the world premieres of “Attila”, “Rigoletto”, ”La traviata” and “Simon Boccanegra”.

While Selva's original theatre was designed to host both drama and musical works, the restoration was carried out by Tommaso and Giambattista Meduna whose design and acoustic enhancement made it ideal for musical productions.. In addition to reconstructing the interior, the two engineer-architects also took in hand the decorations, replacing carvings and stucco-work for the foyer and the Sale Apollinee, which had been spared by the flames.

On 29th January 1996 the theatre was again destroyed by a devastating fire, and temporarily closed for maintenance work. The restoration was completed on 8th December 2003, when the theatre was handed back to the Municipality of Venice and La Fenice Theatre foundation. The fire and reconstruction of the theatre was plagued by scandal involving accusations of incompetence and corruption by the Venetian Public Administration.

Teatro la Fenice, Venice


The new theatre is dressed in marble foyers, beautiful flooring, and a magnificent staircase. 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, organized a week, from 14th to 21st December 2003, of musical events in the new La Fenice. It had an emotional reopening with an inaugural concert of Beethoven, Wagner and Stravinsky on December 14, 2003. The following year, La Fenice performed its inaugural opera, Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata”, in honor of the maestro who wrote it in 1853, and premiered his opera at the very same theatre.

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