Teatro dell’Opera di Roma



by Alice Lechner
May 18, 2023
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The main opera house in Rome is the Teatro dell’Opera, which is also known as the Teatro Constanzi. The theater was inaugurated in 1880 and was originally named after its founder, Domenico Costanzi. It was financed by Costanzi, who commissioned the Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini, a specialist in the building and renovation of theatres.

The original Teatro Costanzi (1880-1926)

The theater was built in the neoclassical style and featured ornate decorations, including frescoes and sculptures. Teatro Costanzi quickly became one of the most important cultural institutions in Rome, attracting both local and international audiences. The theater was known for its lavish productions, featuring some of the most famous operas of the time, including operas by Verdi, Rossini, and Puccini. Costanzi was obliged to manage the theater himself. Under his direction, and despite financial problems, the opera house held many world premieres of operas, including Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni on May 17th, 1890. For a brief period, the theatre was managed by Costanzi’s son, Enrico, who gained renown by organizing another great premiere, that of Tosca by Giacomo Puccini on January 14th, 1900.

In the early 1900s, the theater underwent several renovations, including the addition of new seats and the installation of electric lighting. However, by the 1920s, the building was in need of further repairs and modernization. In 1907, the Teatro Costanzi was purchased by the impresario Walter Mocchi (1871–1955) on behalf of the Società Teatrale Internazionale e Nazionale. In 1912 Mocchi’s wife, Emma Carelli, became the managing director of the new Impresa Costanzi. During the fourteen years of her tenure, major works which had not been performed before in Rome (or even in Italy) were staged. These included La fanciulla del WestTurandot and Il trittico by Giacomo Puccini; Parsifal by Richard Wagner; Francesca da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai; Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky; Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns and many others. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes also performed. In 1926, the theater closed for a major renovation, transforming it into the Teatro Reale dell’Opera. The renovation was led by architect Marcello Piacentini and included a complete overhaul of the interior and exterior of the building. The theater reopened in 1928 with a new name and a new look, marking the beginning of a new era in the history of Rome’s operatic scene.

The restructured Teatro Reale dell’Opera: 1926 to 1946

In November 1926 the Costanzi was bought by the Rome City Council and its name changed to Teatro Reale dell’Opera. The renovation was led by architect Marcello Piacentini, who redesigned both the interior and exterior of the building in the neoclassical style. The theater was equipped with modern technologies, including air conditioning and electric lighting. The seating capacity was increased from 2,200 to 2,800, making it one of the largest opera houses in Europe at the time. The Teatro Reale dell’Opera opened on February 27th, 1928, with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Vestale. The theater quickly became a popular dstination for opera lovers from around the world and continued to present some of the most important operas of the time. However, the theater’s wave of success was interrupted by World War II. During the war, the theater was damaged by bombings and was forced to close. It remained closed until 1946, when it was reopened under the name Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.

Present Teatro dell’Opera Roma: from 1946

The theater was recreated from the ruins of the Teatro Reale dell’Opera, which had been damaged during World War II. Following the end of the monarchy, the name was simplified to Teatro dell’Opera and, in 1958, the building was again remodeled and modernized. The Rome City Council again commissioned architect Marcello Piacentini, who radically altered the building’s style, notably with regard to the facade, entrance and foyer, each of these taking the form we know today. The theater’s legendary acoustics still bear comparison with any other auditorium in the world. The seating capacity is about 1,600. The house was retrofitted with air-conditioning subsequent to a restoration, which provided improvements to the interior. The stucco work was completely restored, the great proscenium arch strengthened, and a parquet floor of solid oak blocks laid to replace the previous one. The theater reopened under the direction of Giuseppe Gentile, who worked to restore the theater’s reputation and bring back its former glory. Under his leadership, the theater presented a variety of operas, ballets, and concerts, featuring both Italian and international artists. On January 2nd 1958, the theater was the venue for a controversial performance of Norma starring Maria Callas in the presence of the President of Italy: for health reasons, Callas abandoned the performance after the first act (the opera company had not engaged an understudy).

During more than a century of life, the Opera House has seen its prestige increase even more internationally. In the numerous seasons, world-renowned interpreters have followed, from Caruso to Gigli, Šaljapin, Pertile, Lauri-Volpi; from Muzio to Caniglia, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Montserrat Caballé, Marilyn Horne, Rajna Kabaivanska; from Del Monaco to Corelli, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, Alfredo Kraus to Raimondi, Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti. And illustrious directors such as Erich Kleiber, Klemperer, Toscanini, De Sabata, Marinuzzi, Gui, Serafin, Von Karajan, Gavazzeni, Solti, Abbado, Prêtre, Mehta, Maazel, Rostropovich, Patanè, Sinopoli, Sawallisch, Sanzogno, Gelmetti, and since 2008 the Maestro Riccardo Muti.


Sir Colin Davis
Colin Rex Davis was born on September 25th, 1927, in Weybridge, Surrey, England, and was known for his exceptional interpretations of a wide range of classical and contemporary repertoire. His early exposure to music was through the clarinet, which he started playing at a young age. His interest in conducting developed during his time at...
November 2023
Alice Lechner
Teatro Massimo
We continue our Theaters around the World column, and in this issue, we arrive in Sicily, more precisely in Palermo. It is known that Teatro Massimo di Palermo was, for a long time, the third largest opera house in Europe, after Palais Garnier and Wiener Staatsoper. The construction of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily,...
November 2023
Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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