The Triumph of Wisdom

The original curtain

By Teatro Regio di Parma

A view of the Arena from the Royal BoxTeatro Regio di Parma

Originally called the New Ducal Theatre, the Teatro Regio in Parma was built at the behest of the Duchess Maria Luigia. Work began in 1821 on a project by the court architect Nicola Bettoli and the Theatre opened on 16thMay 1829 with Zaira by Vincenzo Bellini with a libretto by Felice Romani.

THE TRIUMPH OF WISDOM
The curtain painted by Giovan Battista Borghesi for the inauguration of the theatre in 1829, named The Triumph of Wisdom, is one of the masterpieces of the Teatro Regio.

The Arena, curtain by G.B. Borghesi (1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

The main commissioner and architect of the painter's success was the Duchess Maria Luigia. The Teatro Regio was built at the duchess behest and the curtain dedicated to her.

The stage curtain by G. B. Borghesi (1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

Borghesi paints a celebratory allegory drawing from mythology, to praise the glory of Maria Luigia and her government where gods, heroes, nymphs, satyrs, and muses gather together on Parnassus to share stories.

The goddess Minerva is the protagonist of the scene, painted with the likeness of Maria Luigia, is surrounded by the allegories of Abundance, Justice and Peace.

The left side of the painting is a clear tribute to the arts where, in an idyllic wood, the god Apollo is playing the lyre, while behind him, to represent the dance, the three Graces, and the great spirits of humanism represent poetry and literature.

On the lower left, the familiar looks of the three muses of the theatrical scene: Comedy dressed in blue, Tragedy wearing in red, and the sinuous Music, dressed in yellow and red.

Hidden behind a tree, the satyr Marsyas, defeated by Apollo in a flute competition, observes the scene consumed by envy.

At the centre of the scene there is Pegasus. The winged horse, barely held by the muses, rises untameable towards the public, reminding us of the responsibility of the painter who with his art can urge those who look to conquer new life paths towards emancipation, progress, and independence.

Arena, the ceiling painted by G. B. Borghesi (1829) by G.B. BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

The magnificient ceiling

In 1829 Borghesi, in addition to the curtain, painted also the ceiling of the arena, creating the portraits of the great playwrights. Seneca, Plautus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Linus, Goldoni, Alfieri and Metastasio as though they were prophets, give precious testimony of history through their works as they swirl around the luminous globe.

Main arena, view from the stalls, vault painted by G.B. Borghesi (1827/1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

Arena, detail of the vault painted by G.B. Borghesi, Alfieri (1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

Arena, detail of the vault painted by G.B. Borghesi, Euripide (1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

Main arena, detail of the vault painted by G.B. Borghesi, Plautus (1829) by Giovanni Battista BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

Arena, detail of the vault painted by G.B. Borghesi, Seneca (1829) by G.B. BorghesiTeatro Regio di Parma

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