Il Farnese Theater in Parma it was the court theater of the dukes of Parma and Piacenza. Today it is inserted within the path of the National Gallery and has recently become home to some concert performances and operatic of the Teatro Regio di Parma.
It was built starting from 1618 da Ranuccio I, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, who intended to celebrate with a theatrical performance the stop in Parma of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo II, directed to Milan to honor the tomb of St. Charles Borromeo, canonized in 1610.
The realization of the work was entrusted to the architect Giovan Battista Aleotti, called the Argenta (1546-1636): it was built on the first floor of Palazzo della Pilotta of Parma, in a large compartment designed as Antiquarium Salon but always used as a weapons room and as a venue for tournaments.
The theater was completed in the autumn of 1618 and dedicated to Bellona (goddess of war, in homage to the first destination of the environment) and to the Muse: due to an illness that had struck Cosimo II, forcing him to cancel the planned pilgrimage, the theater remained unused for almost ten years. It was finally inaugurated on 21 December 1628, on the occasion of the wedding of Odoardo, son of Ranuccio, with Margherita de 'Medici, daughter of Cosimo.
To celebrate the event, the show “Mercury and Mars” was set up, with lyrics by Claudio Achillini and music by Claudio Monteverdi: during the opera the cavea was also flooded and a naumachia staged. Due to the complexity and high cost of the set-ups, the theater was used only eight more times: the last in 1732, on the occasion of the arrival of Don Carlo di Borbone in the duchy.
The Argenta was inspired by the Vicenza Olympic Theater, built by Palladio in 1580, and al Teatro all'Antica di Sabbioneta, built between 1588 and 1590 by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi.
Housed in a large hall (87 meters long for 32 in width and 22 in height), the U-shaped cavea consists of fourteen steps on which they could be housed around 3000 spectators: at the top of the cavea there are two orders of serlianas, the lower Tuscan one and the upper Ionic one; the stage is 40 meters long, with an opening of 12 meters.
La structure was made in wood (Friuli red fir tree) and entirely covered with painted stucco to simulate the marble (characteristic materials of ephemeral architecture, which was to be the Farnese Theater).
The sculptural decoration (mythological statues in plaster, with a straw core) was entrusted to a team of artists led by Luca Reti; the painters, led by Giovan Battista Trotti said Malosso, Lionello Spada, Sisto Badalocchio, Antonio Bertoja e Pier Antonio Bernabei, had to provide, in addition to the decoration of the walls, even to that now lost ceiling.
It is considered by some to be one of the first theaters to be equipped with a permanent proscenium arch, however when the theater was built the performances were not held there.
Address: Piazza della Pilotta 15 - 43100 Parma