Posts Tagged ‘Teatro Olympico’

The Teatro Olympico, Vicenza

The Teatro Olympico

Billed as the first permanent covered theatre of the Renaissance,
the Teatro Olympico forms a unique blend of architectural spectacle and drama.

In 1579, the Olympic Accademian society asked Palladio to create a
new theatre on the site of Vicenza’s former city prison. His response considers
Classical theatres, as described by the Latin writer Vitruvius, and his own
archaeological investigations. Presented in 1580, the design is constructed
from an ellipse, with sunken orchestra pit, and a grand loggia behind the
seating. The frons scenae (stage wall) marks new construction away from the
existing prison fabric, and frames remarkable perspective scenery. Above, the
auditorium ceiling is painted with sky.

For the inauguration in 1585, the Accademians chose to perform
Sophocles drama, Oedipus Rex. This was seen as the ultimate Greek drama to be
staged in a strongly classical setting. After the death of Palladio in 1580,
Vicenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616) stepped in to design the stage set. Resembling the
city of Thebes, the scenery fits into a 12 metre space behind the stage wall. A
sloped floor and buildings of diminishing scale mean that actors appear to retreat
down one of the three streets. The perspective illusion is enhanced by
positioning hidden lights in the wood and plaster scenery. In front, a
chequered marble floor allowed the director to accurately place characters. The
stage wall contains statues of the patrons who provided finance for the
project. It serves as the setting for a palace, with the foremost area of stage
replicating a city piazza.

On the 3rd March 1585, 3000 patrons attended the
inauguration. By all accounts it was a moving performance.