View of the elliptical arena (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

In 1853, the Duke of Parma, Charles III decided to completely renovate the theatre room according to the aesthetic standards of the time. The works were assigned to Girolamo Magnani, Giuseppe Verdi's trusted decorator and scenographer.

The artist has radically changed the neoclassical style of the original room, giving voice to a virtuous Rococo expressiveness and creating a renewed and glorious version in just 4 months, inaugurated on December 28, with the opera The Prophet, written by Meyerbeer.

The architecture of the Italian-style arena was maintained and softened by rounding the sharp corners of the one-hundred-and-fourteen boxes, distributed on four tiers dominated by the gallery.

View of the Arena from the stage, the stalls (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

The seating capacity of 1800 people in total gradually scaled down to just under 1200.

The neoclassical idea of lightening the decoration from the first to the last tier was maintained.

Cherubs with musical instruments, telamons, lion effigies with hanging flowers, griffins, shells, are deprived of their narrative element. Everything becomes ornament.

Arena, the boxes (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

Hall, second tier of boxes, detail (putto) (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

Arena, side view of the second tier of boxes by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

View of the Arena from the stage (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

The fleur-de-lis, the family crest of Charles III Duke of Parma, is located in strategic points of the room - on the jambs of the ducal box, on the entrance doors to honour the prestige of the Duke who had yearned for people’s devotion by embellishing the theatre.

Sitting area of the Royal Box, portrait of Charles III of Bourbon, Duke of Parma.Teatro Regio di Parma

A stubborn yearning, yet characterized by an inflexible despotism, which cost him his life in the spring of 1854.

Arena, detail of the frieze on the ceiling (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

The fanciful arabesques recreate naturalistic Renaissance motifs that blend with allegorical images, typical of the eighteenth-century Rococo style.

Arena, proscenium, Gaetano Donizetti (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

The brimming golden busts sculpted on the proscenium arch represent illustrious musicians, poets and playwrights. Among them stands out the bust of a young Vincenzo Bellini, who inaugurated the theatre with his opera La Zaira in 1829.

Arena, proscenium, Giuseppe Torelli (1853) by Girolamo MagnaniTeatro Regio di Parma

Inside of the Theatre Commission boxTeatro Regio di Parma

The change of style was therefore not only decorative but marked an important political and cultural transition. The Theatre became the representative building of the liberal bourgeoisie which wanted to achieve national unity, of which Giuseppe Verdi's melodrama became a symbol.

The motto of that insurgency was Viva Verdi, an acronym for Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re d’Italia (King of Italy): a praise to the musician and an exhortation to change.

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