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 l'Argenta (1546-1636): it was built on the first floor of the 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 fall of 1618 and dedicated to Bellona (goddess of war, as a tribute to the first destination of the environment) and the Muse: because of an illness that had struck Cosimo II, forcing him to cancel the planned pilgrimage, the theater remained unused for almost ten years. The 21 December of 1628 was finally inaugurated, on the occasion of the wedding of Odoardo, son of Ranuccio, with Margherita de 'Medici, daughter of Cosimo.
To celebrate the event, the show "Mercurio e Marte" was set up, with texts by Claudio Achillini and music by Claudio Monteverdi: during the opera the cavea was also flooded and a naumachia was staged. Because of the complexity and high costs of the set-ups, the theater was used only eight more times: the last one in the 1732, on the occasion of the arrival of Don Carlo di Borbone in the duchy.
Argenta was inspired by the Vicenza Olympic Theater, built by Palladio in 1580, and al Theater at the Antica di Sabbioneta, built between the 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 are two orders of serliane, the lower tuscanico and the upper ionic one; the stage is long 40 meters, 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