The Malvezzi Theatre

Intended for opera, it combines music and austere melodrama with lighter genres such as pastoral fairy tales and intermezzi, comedies, and prose works.
Maria Chiara Mazzi

In our journey to the rediscovery of the long-gone theatres in Bologna, we now arrive on Via Belmeloro and reach Palazzo Malvezzi "da S. Sigismondo," where, in 1686, one of the first theatres destined to opera in music was opened. The theatre is beautiful: it has four orders of 16 boxes each, a programming that combined the severe melodrama with lighter genres, such as pastoral fairy tales and intermezzi, comedies and prose works, recited by professional companies or by the noble amateurs of the many academies of the city.


Entrance of the Malvezzi Palace, Bologna

To beat the competition with other theatres in Bologna, the organizers rely on the quality of performances of great fame and important authors. At first, the works are by famous Bolognese, such as Giacomo A. Perti or Domenico Gabrielli, but then, from the beginning of the eighteenth century, after the restoration carried out by the brothers Galli Bibiena (who will be the set designers of some performances) are presented the works of internationally renowned composers. Here then are the most applauded pages of Caldara, Hasse and Jommelli (who wrote to Malvezzi his Ezio), with the great interpreters of the moment, such as Bernacchi and Farinelli, who in the twenties and thirties competed several times to the sound of warbles.

Map of the Malvezzi Palace's street corner, Bologna

The future seemed to look very rosy when, on the night between February 19 and 20, 1745, after a performance by Giustino, a fire, whether arson or accidental, completely destroyed the building. The Malvezzi family decided not to rebuild but, at that point finally, the disappearance of the theatre in Via Belmeloro led the city to build a 'public theatre.' What we know as the Community Theatre was built near the site of the fire and opened almost twenty years after that painful episode. Not all evil comes to harm...


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