On the former Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy
La Fenice, Venice's beautiful opera house, was destroyed by fire on Monday, January 29, 1996. There are plans to rebuild it. This page is designed to help people find out information on Fenice's history.
In 1774, the San Benedetto Theater, which had been Venice's leading opera house for more than forty years, was burned to the ground. No sooner had it been rebuilt than a legal dispute broke out between the company managing it and the owners, the Venier family. The issue was decided in favor of the Veniers, with the result that the theater company decided to build a new opera house of its own on the Campo San Fantin. From the twenty-nine architectural plans which were submitted, the one by Gian Antonio Selva was chosen. The building works began in June 1790; by May 1792 the auditorium was completed. It was named " La Fenice" (The Phoenix), in an allusion to the company's survival, first of the fire, then of expulsion from its former base. La Fenice was inaugurated on May 16, 1792 with an opera by Giovanni Paisiello entitled "I Giochi di Agrigento" ( Distractions of Agrigento). The libretto was written by Alessandro Pepoli.
The Fame of La Fenice
From the beginning of the 19th century, La Fenice acquired a European reputation. Rossini mounted two major productions in the theater and Bellini had two operas premiered there. Donizetti, fresh from his triumphs in Milan and Naples, returned to Venice--and La Fenice--in 1836, after an absence of seventeen years. Thus the three greatest Italian composers of the period each affirmed the theater's preeminence, but in December 1836 it was tragically burned down yet again. The following year Giambattista and Tommaso Meduna were commissioned to design a new theater, with decor by Tranquillo Orsi. La Fenice rose once again from its ashes on the evening of December 26, 1837.
Verdi at La Fenice
Verdi's association with La Fenice began in 1844, with a performance of "Hernani" during the Carnival season. Over the next thirteen years, the world premieres of "Attila", "Rigoletto", "La Traviata" and "Simon Boccanegra" all took place there.
La Fenice in the 20th Century
After a period of closure during the First World War, La Fenice again became the scene of intense activity, attracting the world's greatest singers and conductors. In 1930, the Biennale initiated the First International Festival of Contemporary Music, which brought composers like Stravinsky and Britten, and more recently Berio, Nono and Bussotti, to write for La Fenice. Latterly, as part of the theater's bicentenary celebrations, La Fenice has put on a series of revivals of some of its greatest triumphs.
--from Knopf Guides, "Venice"
Operas Premiering at La Fenice
--contributed by: Pierre M. Bellemare & Giovanni Christen
La Fenice Closes for Restoration Through 2-01-96
Venice's famous Teatro La Fenice, one of Italy's oldest opera houses, has closed for a much needed restoration and unfortunately the beautiful theater won't reopen for business until February 1996. However, visitors need not despair; during the closure, it has been arranged that La Fenice's opera productions and concerts of the theater's resident orchestra will be held at the Teatro Comunale G. Verdi in Padua, only half an hour from Venice by train. For more information, phone 49/876 03 39 or fax 49/66 10 53.
The proscenium during the measurements before the burning
PalaFenice schedule, La Fenice's temporary home on Isola del Tronchetto
Current "Music in Italy" schedule
BOOKS on Teatro La Fenice
"Grandi Teatri Italiani" written by Francesco Sforza and published by Editalia, via Pallacorda 7, Roma. Phone: 39-6-8546146 (Mr. Olivetti). "This book is part of a series on Italian art and culture and has a fine text and sumptuous photographic work on the main opera houses, ... The Fenice is on the front and back covers..."
--contributed by Bill Fregosi
"Five Centuries of Music in Venice" published by Schirmer Books, Macmillan Publishing, USA. Phone: 212-654-8416. This book contains good information and historical photos on the productions and architecture of La Fenice". ($20.)
--contributed by Jonathan Wiener
Cerrell Associates, Inc. in Los Angeles is working with the Italian Heritage Culture Foundation and it's S.O.S. La Fenice Committee to create a "Carnevale di Venzia" in Los Angeles. With the patronage of UNESCO, City of Venice, Italy, Friends of Fenice Association, the Peggy Guggenhiem Collection and under the direction of Barbara Albasio, Executive Director of the S.O.S. La Fenice Committee, we are trying to create a cultural and educational carnival experience designed to help raise funds for the reconstruction of the Palco Reale at La Fenice. We have created a week long celebration including a Venetian Masked Ball, Venetian Food & Wine Street Festival, performances by the La Fenice Orchestra and the Grande Scuola di San Rocco, Costume parades and much more.
The Main Hall during the measurements before the burning
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