Parma has played a fundamental role in the history of music in Italy. Conductor Arturo Toscanini was born there and the city was the adopted home of celebrated violinist Niccolò Paganini. However, the city’s close association with influential Romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi propelled it onto the international scene. Verdi lived just 20 miles away in the town of Busseto. Parma’s Teatro Regio (Royal Theatre) opera house celebrates his work annually by staging the Verdi Festival and there is a bust of the bearded musician in the foyer of the theatre.
Located in the heart of Parma, the Teatro Regio is one of the most prestigious lyric theatres in Italy and its success is entwined with that of the city. The theatre gained royal status because it was commissioned by the daughter of the Emperor of Austria and second wife of Napoleon I, Marie Louise Habsburg. In 1816, the Congress of Vienna granted her the grand duchy of Parma. The Duchess fell in love with Parma and the construction of the opera house helped transform it into one of Europe’s leading cities. A leading patron of the arts, she even had direct access to a salon inside the theatre from the Ducal Palace. Today, the 1,200-seat theatre is the venue for operas, concerts and ballets. Its sumptuously decorated rooms and halls decorated by Paolo Toschi and Giovanni Battista Borghesi are used for congresses, conventions and gala dinners.
The theatre was built in the Neoclassical style, as seen in the columns at its entrance. Many of the theatre’s original features have survived, from chandeliers to gilded stucco. Among the most interesting is the stage curtain painted by Borghesi showing an allegorical scene with the Duchess as the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, Minerva, surrounded by nymphs, poets and muses. Another remarkable feature is the so-called “acoustic chamber” painted by Giuseppe Carmigiani, made from wood-framed canvas panels that can be opened and closed telescopically to use with orchestras of various sizes and formations.
Where: Teatro Regio, Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi 16A, 43121 Parma, Emilia Romagna