Rhinegold The planned reconstruction of the Teatro San Cassiano intends to make Venice a world centre for Baroque opera

Josephine Miles

Teatro San Cassiano reconstruction project seeks investment

2:03, 3rd October 2019

The project to reconstruct Venice’s Teatro San Cassiano launched its investment process in London on 1 October

The Teatro San Cassiano was the world’s first public opera house when it opened in 1637, welcoming a ticket-buying public rather than remaining the preserve of private patronage and nobility. Francesco Manelli’s L’Andromeda, with a libretto by Benedetto Ferrari, was the first opera to be staged there.

The opera house was demolished in 1812 under Napoleon’s instruction, following recurring fires. Now a project is underway to reconstruct the original 1637 Teatro as faithfully as possible to create a fully functioning, dedicated Baroque opera house, complete with its own Baroque stage machinery, moving sets and special effects.

The project intends to restore historically informed Baroque opera in Venice and to establish the Teatro San Cassiano as a world-leading centre for the research and staging of Baroque opera. School outreach and music therapy services constitute important elements of the longer-term strategy.

The planning team is working through numerous archival records, drawings, and images of other contemporary theatres to deliver a historically viable plan for the reconstruction of the 1637 theatre – with guidance from an advisory council comprising musicologists and specialists in Venetian architecture.

The project has partnered with Shakespeare’s Globe in London, working with the architect, technical advisor and builder responsible for the reconstruction of the Globe theatre and the building of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Paul Atkin, Teatro San Cassiano CEO, announces mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg as global ambassador for the project (Photo credit: Janie Airey)

The project is following an independent charitable/commercial financial model that seeks to pursue charitable objectives but finances its activities through commercial enterprise rather than public funding. The first investment round launched in London on 1 October 2019 with an event featuring speeches from members of the advisory council and a performance from mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, who has been named as global ambassador for the project.

Paul Atkin, CEO of Teatro San Cassiano, commented: ‘Our aim is to restore the 1637 theatre as accurately as academic research will allow. The theatre will then become a place of exploration, study and performance of historically informed Baroque opera, both in the orchestra pit and on the stage.

‘We want to work together with the Venetian authorities and the Venetian public to restore Baroque opera for Venice, and in doing so we want to make Venice once again the world centre for Baroque opera.’


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