The Municipal Theater of Bologna was built by Antonio Galli da Bibbiena in the place where Palazzo Bentivoglio once stood, destroyed in 1507. A part of the remains form the current Guasto Gardens, between via del Guasto and Largo Respighi, where instead there is the artists entrance.
Teatro Comunale di Bologna History
The fire that destroyed the then Malvezzi Theater in Bologna in 1745, all in wood, started the history of the Bolognese opera house. After the fire, the city commissioned Antonio Galli Bibiena, a member of the famous family of theater architects and set designers, to build a new stone opera house in the Baroque style of the period. On May 14, 1763 the Municipal Theater opened its doors to the public with the first performance of Gluck's The Triumph of Clelia.
Documents of the time report that 1,500 people attended the inaugural event, out of the total population of 70,000 at that time. Since then the town hall has become famous for the high quality level of its shows and for the fame of the artists who come from all over the world. The musical culture of Bologna is well known: many composers, including Mozart, studied at the Bologna Music Academy; Rossini lived in the city for years and saw his works staged at the town hall; Verdi worked in nearby Busseto and Sant’Agata. In 1867 the first Italian performance of Don Carlo took place on the Bibiena stage a few months after the Parisian "premiere". But the city and the theater were also open to the arrival of non-Italian productions and artists. Since it was the first theater to stage the Wagnerian Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Der fliegende Holländer, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal, the Teatro Comunale acquired for Bologna the reputation of a "Wagnerian" city.
During the first Italian performance of Lohengrin, Verdi was sitting on a stage in the theater, holding the score of his rival in his hands. Among the great directors who appeared on the Bologna scene are: Mariani, Toscanini, Furtwängler, von Karajan, Gavazzeni, Celibidache, Solti, Delman and, more recently, Muti, Abbado, Chailly, Thielemann, Sinopoli, Gatti and Jurowski. The great historical voices of the nineteenth century have all passed on the Municipal stage. In the twentieth century singers such as Stignani, Schipa, Gigli, Di Stefano, Christoff, Tebaldi, Del Monaco and, more recently, Pavarotti, Freni, Bruson, Horne, Ludwig, Anderson performed in this theater. Today the Municipal Theater continues its tradition of excellence.
The most recent productions have been designed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, Luca Ronconi, Bob Wilson, Pier’Alli, Werner Herzog and Calixto Bieito. The Theater avails itself of the collaboration of 95 orchestra professors and 70 choir artists and produces around 80 opera performances and 30 symphonic concerts in one season.
In addition to serving Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna region, the Theater has traveled abroad: we remember the tours in Japan in the years 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2006, as well as participating in important international festivals such as Aix en Provence in 2005 and Savonlinna in 2006.