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San Cassiano Theatre

alias Opera House in Venice
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1637 | Opening

(detail)1798 | closure


First public theatres which were coming into existence in Venice. These theatres were financed either by noble families or by shareholders, but in either case the motive was profit. The owners rented out the boxes, leaving the income from the pit and galleries to pay the expenses of the actors. This system had an immediate effect on architec­ture. Instead of elegance and ostentation and the close association of stage and auditorium (since at masques the audience often joined in themselves), the overriding consideration was now the need to accommodate as many customers as possible. Instead of one, or at most two, tiers of galleries centred on the royal box, with the parterre often left empty, the new theatres crowded in three or four tiers, divided them up into boxes, filled the parterre with benches and put the orchestra (in the modern sense) in the space which at court often linked the stage and the auditorium. The Teatro San Cassiano (1639), by Benedetto Ferrari, was traditionally the first theatre designed in this way.


In: Tidworth, Simon : Theatres: An Illustrated History. London 1973 p. 68


The novel aspect of the Opera House in Venice did not merely consist of the fact that it was the first of its kind in terms of the programme content, but in the fact that it was the first public theatre to emerge outside of the institutions of courtly theatres. The open character of the opera to public was also reflected in the arrangement of the auditorium which provided spaces for the poor as well as offering pleasant seating in private loges for the richer people. It was torn down in the year 1812.



Author: Simon Tidworth

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