Naples is often defined as a theatre in the open air since every corner of this city, as well as its inhabitants, show an incredible theatricality.
Among the art traditions of Naples, the theatre is surely one of the most ancient and renowned, loved and appreciated by Neapolitan people. Apart from the remains of the ancient Roman theatre in the historical center where according to the legend emperor Nerone sang, there are a lot of more recent theatres still in use. Famous artists have contributed to making the Neapolitan theatre famous all over the world as the unforgettable author and actor Eduardo De Filippo. He wrote his plays in the Neapolitan dialect now regarded as a real language and belonging to the Unesco heritage. De Filippo mostly performed them in the San Ferdinando theatre that he had founded. He defined the universal language of the theatre as “The desperate effort of a man to give a meaning to his life”.
The most ancient and famous theatres in Napoli
- The most famous Neapolitan theatre is the San Carlo Theatre, the oldest opera house in Europe. Considered as one of the most beautiful theatres in the word it has also been declared a Unesco heritage site. It derives its name from king Carlo of Borbone who wanted it built in 1737 and is one of the largest in Europe.
- Another important theatre is the Mercadante built-in 1667 with a capacity of about 500 seats. Great musicians and composers as Rossini, Mozart, Donizetti and famous actors of comedies and tragedies have performed there.
- Also very important is the Bellini theatre with its 1200 seats and boasting a façade sumptuously decorated. It hosted circus shows in the past while nowadays prose plays are performed there.
- Always in the center of the city is the Augusteo theatre very loved by the Neapolitan middle class for its performances of musicals and comedies.
- Very similar to the choice of works is the Diana theatre in the center of the Vomero district. But these are only a few of the several Neapolitan theatres that testify the love of this city for this fascinating and always up-to-date form of art.
About the San Carlo Theatre
The San Carlo Theatre is one of the most gorgeous and glorious theatres in the world. It stands in the center of Naples next to the Royal Palace and Plebiscito square and has always attracted the lovers of classical music. It was founded in 1737, before the Scala theatre in Milan and the Fenice in Venice, according to the will of King Charles of Borbone as a sign of his power and was dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo, hence its name.
What we see today is not the original one which was destroyed by a fire in less than an hour in 1816 and reconstructed soon after. It has hosted the works of the most famous composers of the past many of which presented for the first time and also the best singers not to forget the castrati singers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
They were male singers emasculated before puberty to keep their voices shrill. Composers as Bellini or Verdi, singers as Caruso, Callas, Pavarotti, conductors as Toscanini, Bernstein, Von Karajan, dancers as Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Margot Fonteyn.