The Donizetti theater in Bergamo was born in the late 1700s with the name of the new theater or Fiera theater in an area used as a fair.
Teatro Gaetano Donizetti History
The Donizetti Theater in Bergamo has a complex history. It was born in the eighteenth century, initially taking the name of its builder, Bortolo Riccardi, producer and trader of silk.
At the time, the ancient Fiera di Sant'Alessandro was held in the heart of Bergamo Bassa, a large annual market with the current Piazza Dante as the center of gravity, where a vast masonry quadrilateral was located, which housed 540 shops arranged in several rows . The complex was a reference point for commercial activities, a meeting and entertainment place.
During the Fair, the Provisional Theaters were built in the area, made of wood, which had to be dismantled at the end of the fair activities. Obtained land from the Municipality and the Ospedale Maggiore, Bortolo Riccardi, bypassing the city rules, built his own theater with masonry bases. The fact aroused lively controversy, however the theater, designed by Giovanni Francesco Lucchini, was inaugurated on August 24, 1791. The plan of the hall, with an elongated ellipse, guaranteed perfect visibility and excellent acoustics.
In the night between 11 and 12 January 1797 an arson attack with a political background completely destroyed the building, which was then rebuilt all in brickwork and opened for the 1801 Fair. From that year to 1809 Riccardi's programming was dominated from the activity of Giovanni Simone Mayr - master of Gaetano Donizetti - who successfully set up some of his works.
The most popular singers took part in the Riccardi seasons, including the sopranos Giuditta Pasta and Giuseppina Strepponi as well as the tenor Giovan Battista Rubini. In 1840 Gaetano Donizetti, welcomed with enthusiasm by the public and by Simone Mayr, was a guest at the representation of his work The exile in Rome. This was the composer's only presence in the Bergamo theater.
In 1869 some internal restoration works were carried out, while outside there was the reconstruction of the primitive porticoed facade. The events of the rich programs include the "Great Gala Evening" organized for the representation of Verdi's Othello in the presence of King Umberto I; for this event the theater was "splendidly illuminated by day".
In the late thirties the theater became property of the Municipality of Bergamo. More recently, between 2007 and 2008, various innovations were carried out in the rooms on the second floor and restoration and night lighting of the facade, which gave the theater a new suggestive appearance. In October 2017, new restoration and renovation works began which will transform the Donizetti Theater into a real home of culture, a dynamic place to attend all year round.