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Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini

The Vincenzo Bellini maximum theater is the center of representation of the Catania opera.

This theater built at the expense of the Municipality and dedicated to the immortal name of VINCENZO BELLINI was solemnly opened on the evening of November 10th MDCCCLXXXII to the people’s training and amusement and a perennial decorum of the city

Epigraph by Mario Rapisardi

History of the Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini

In 1870 the architect Andrea Scala was given the task of finding a suitable site to build a new Politeama, after examining the various options it was decided for the Piazza Cutelli area. Despite the financial uncertainties, the Scala project was approved which, with the assistance of the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, carried out the work, financed by the group of shareholders of the Politeama anonymous company. In 1880 the company ended up in liquidation soon and was replaced by the Municipality which decided to modify the structure to Opera House imposing changes to the project, in seven years the works were finished. Lacking the funds to entrust it to an impresario, it was necessary to wait for May 31st 1890 for the inauguration with the Norma work of the Catania composer Vincenzo Bellini.

The Structure of the Theater

The neo-Baroque-style facade of the theater is inspired by the Sansovino classic of the Marciana National Library of Venice. The rest of the building, however, is detached in the lateral development, assuming the form of theater. The hall with four tiers of boxes beyond the gallery is of great decorative richness and is one of the most beautiful of those built in the nineteenth century in Italy. The ceiling is frescoed by the painter Ernesto Bellandi with the apotheosis of Bellini with the allegories of his major works: Norma, La sonnambula, I puritani and Il pirata. The historical curtain, illustrating the Victory of the Catanese over the Libyans, is by the Catania painter Giuseppe Sciuti. In the reduced, very large and elegant, all marbles and stuccos, noteworthy is the bronze statue of Vincenzo Bellini, by Salvo Giordano.

The inside of Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini
Inside the Theater Massimo Vincenzo Bellini

Facts related to Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini

Worthy of note: in 1931, the staging of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz with Ines Alfani-Tellini, in 1933, an edition of La traviata with Mercedes Capsir and Lina Pagliughi, in 1934 Carmen with Gianna Pederzini and in 1935 of Norma with Gina Cigna. In 1941 Don Pasquale di Donizetti with Toti Dal Monte and Puccini Bohème with Mario Del Monaco. Subsequently the war events imposed the closure of the Theater until 1944 when the performances were resumed. In 1950, Maria Callas appeared in Norma, a work with which she returned also in 1951. Also in 1951, Callas was also the most applauded interpreter of another of the Bellini masterpieces, I Puritani. In 1952 he brought the “Bellini” La traviata and in 1953 Lucia di Lammermoor. In 1955 the “Bellini” hosted the newly elected President of the Republic Giovanni Gronchi for the inauguration of the season. The Puritans on stage. Of that period we recall: The Carmelite Dialogues (opera) in 1959 that the same author, Poulenc, defined as the best staging of his work; Joan of Arc at the stake of Honegger in 1960 with Vittorio Gassman actor and director (the performance was filmed by RAI and broadcast on TV); The rose knight by Richard Strauss in 1960. In 1966 the management of the “Bellini” was taken by the Municipality of Catania, which debuted in this role with a season that saw Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda directed by Vittorio Gui with Raina Kabaivanska. In 1970, the first of Moses in Egypt was directed by Gianandrea Gavazzeni. In 1972 Gavazzeni himself directed I Puritani directed by Attilio Colonnello. In 1975 it was proposed in the first edition of the Zaira century with the reconstruction of Rubino Profeta with Renata Scotto and Giorgio Casellato Lamberti. In 1970 Anna Bolena by Donizetti with Katia Ricciarelli on her debut in Catania and Macbeth by Verdi with Olivia Stapp and Kostas Paskalis. In 1981 the world premiere of Kean by Mario Zafred with Carlo Cava takes place. In 1986 the Teatro Massimo Bellini became, with the law of the Sicilian Region, the Regional Autonomous Body.

In 1997 the world premiere of Rinaldo & C. by Azio Corghi with Valentina Valente, Carmela Remigio and Federica Bragaglia takes place. In 2002 the Sicilian Region starts the transformation of the Teatro Massimo Bellini autonomous regional organization into a Foundation. In 2007 the Sicilian Regional Assembly reported the “Bellini” to a Regional Autonomous Body with a special law. The “Bellini” has an orchestra of 105 elements and a choir of 84 elements. In April 2018 the Regional Orchestra of Wind Instruments Fe.Ba.Si. she performed in the Bellini, a unique event of its kind, because, for the first time in its history, a group of non-professional horns held a concert inside the theater. The tenor Beniamino Gigli proclaimed it the best theater theater in the world for acoustics

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