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Ancient Theatre

A jewel of rare beauty, the first example of a repertory theatre in Europe, the Teatro Antico plays a major role among European theatre buildings. It was Vincenzo Scamozzi - back from construction work on the Olympic Theatre in Vicenza – who in 1588 designed plans for a court theatre for Duke Vespasiano, built between 1588 and 1590. An innovation is the rear entrance reserved for artists (musicians and actors), which allows access to the dressing rooms. On the raised stage there was a fixed scene designed by Scamozzi, destroyed in the second half of the 1700s. This represents an urban perspective, a street lined with noble and bourgeois buildings. The sense of depth was accentuated by tilting the stage and through the false ceiling, a vaulted ceiling made from woven river reeds, stuccoed and painted blue, sloping above the stage itself. The harmonious lodge remains from the original structure, consisting of crowning statues representing the main gods of Olympus. The frescoes that follow the entire perimeter of the room, immediately below the roof, simulate a loggia animated by musicians, comedians, knights and ladies dressed according to the customs of the late 1500s. The building, completed in February 1590, was inaugurated with the carnival celebrations. A repertory theatre company, salaried by the duke, remained in Sabbioneta until the death of Vespasiano, after which the theatre, as the whole town, experienced a long period of decline.

           

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