Venice’s celebrated Teatro La Fenice opera house is a mecca for music lovers and dance fans alike. The theatre is second in importance in Italy only to Milan’s La Scala and has consistently attracted the music world’s most famous names over the centuries, ensuring for top-notch productions, whether they be operas, concerts or ballet. However, the chance to see the glamour surrounding a performance at the theatre, admiring the satin, fur and jewels worn by many of those in the audience, is an experience that has appeal for the less artistically inclined too. It is also hard not to feel impressed by the scale of the interior with its decorative twists and twirls, glistening ceiling with gilt encrusted edging, and many tiers of seating marked by plush red velvet and ornate frescoes.
‘Fenice’ is the Italian word for ‘phoenix’ and La Fenice was so named when it was rebuilt after being burned to the ground in the 18th century. No one then knew what an apt name that would become, given that the theatre was destroyed by fire in 1836 and then again in 1996 in a dreadful act of arson. The theatre was rebuilt and opened once more to the public in 2004. It has been reconstructed to a 19th-century design, which attracted criticism from some quarters who regarded it as garish and a lost opportunity, believing that Venice should have chosen to rebuild the theatre in a modern style. However, the current incarnation of La Fenice has larger rehearsal areas than its predecessor, state of the art stage equipment and seats 1,000. What it does provide is a touch of old world luxury with 21st-century comfort. It is also testament to the Venetians’ ongoing love for opera and a vibrant reminder of the city’s cultural heritage.
Where: Teatro La Fenice, Campo San Fantin 1965, Venice