The framework of a masterpiece

Teatro Bibiena

The facade of the theatre displays a severe and composed style. For more than two centuries the theatre has hosted gatherings and performances. The excellent acoustics is obtained thanks to the complex structure in wood that separates the ceiling from the roof. 

Antonio Bibiena Theatre
The so called Bibiena Theatre was initially the location for internal meetings of the Academia, a cultural gathering of fundamental importance established at the time of the Gonzaga with the name Accademia Degli Invaghiti and recognised by the Pope in 1564. It took the form of an elitist university qualified to give degrees in every discipline. The building in which the Academia was located was originally owned by Ferrante Gonzaga, a soldier of Charles V, second son of Francesco and Isabella d’Este. The buildings went through a series of transformations, and already in the first part of its life it hosted a theatre used by the academics. It is however uncertain whether plays were actually staged here at the time. In the seventeenth century the Academia changed its name many times, being first named after the Invitti and later after the Timidi.
Piazza Dante
The side of the building that gives onto Piazza Dante, where the Classical Lyceum and the Library are, is the result of more recent restoration that closed the north-west side of the building. The church of Santa Maria Del Popolo, knocked down in 1891, stood where now the small square opens up. The National Academy of Virgil is the result of the final transformation undergone by the Royal Academy: during the Napoleonic period it changed its name, reflecting the general harmony between the ideals of the French Government and the tradition of Latin culture.

The side of the building that gives onto Piazza Dante, where the Classical Lyceum and the Library are, is the result of more recent restoration that closed the north-west side of the building.

Facade of the Bibiena Theatre
The facade was completed after the construction of the theatre. The designer, the winner of a public competition held after Bibiena had fallen out of favour, is the architect Giuseppe Piermarini (Foligno 1734, Foligno 1808). A pupil of the Vanvitelli, Piermarini is famous for having designed the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. His work is representative of a rigorous Neoclassicism; Bibiena indeed was accused of being too much influenced by Renaissance models. The actual construction of the facade was carried out by Paolo Pozzo from Verona, who completed the external part of the building in 1775. It is important to notice that the neoclassical addition did not in any way interfere with the great internal hall, that today is universally praised for its magnificent beauty.
Attic of the Bibiena Theatre
This image allows us to appreciate the charm of the most hidden part of the theatre, the beams supporting the roof that are connected to the ceiling of the hall. The Bibiena Theatre is renowned for its perfect acoustics. This was obtained in part thanks to the upper part of the building: the theatre in fact resembles a vessel able to cut through the musical waves.  

Another detail of the attic

A detail of the counter-vault

A perfect construction

A wooden work of great value

Credits: Story

Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova)

Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Sebastiano Sali

Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
Giovanni Pasetti

Foto di / Photo by:
Gian Maria Pontiroli

Redazione/ Editors:
Erica Beccalossi
Sara Crimella
Carlotta Depalmas
Veronica Zirelli

Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to:
Emma Catherine Gainsforth
Chiara Pisani
Paola Somenzi
Custodi del Bibiena
Orchestra da Camera di Mantova - Ocm

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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