The Nosadella Theatre

A “third-class” theatre, it has hosted famous marionettists, comic opera, variety shows, illusionist acts and, lastly, film screenings that have made the Nosadella one of the city’s busiest theatres.
Maria Chiara Mazzi

Our itinerary in search of Bologna’s long-gone theatres comes to Via Nosadella, in the former church of Santa Maria Egiziaca where the owner, Francesco Albertazzi, opened a marionette theatre in 1825! 

Via Nosadella 21/23 (ancient number 672), Bologna

Not to be confused with puppets, marionettes have well-defined faces, appropriate clothes and hairstyles, are moved, made to sing, speak and dance by real specialists and offer a repertoire ranging from commedia dell’arte to adventurous and sentimental dramas, from pantomime dances to operas set to music, the latter performed with the support of a small orchestra and backstage singers. The Nosadella is a “third-class” theatre, has a capacity of about 300 seats and is very popular with the Bolognese. Famous marionettists passed through here, such as Onofrio Samoggia, whose performances were also reviewed by the most important newspapers, and who, in the 1940s, restructured the venue, renamed it “Teatro Civico” and, associating himself with a former singer from the Teatro del Corso, created the “marionette in person” Persuttino, who interacted with the marionettes, as did Paolo Diamanti, known as “Narciso de’ Marionetti.” Comic opera is also performed at the Nosadella, in a fine manner, if in the carnival of 1843 at the comic scherzo in dialect L’armur dla piazza d’giourn e d’la sira among the spectators is even Gioachino Rossini!


Poster for a marionette show, Nosadella Theatre, Bologna

In the second half of the 19th century, marionettes went out of fashion and until 1876 the spaces were used for other purposes until the doors reopened with a new genre, the variety show, to which the common people flocked, often stirring up quarrels and squabbles with the actors. The final breakthrough came with the invention of cinema. In 1896, the wrestler Ersilio Bartoletti, manager of a brewery outside Porta San Felice, in the “Cinematografo dei Sordomuti” offered for 25 cents illusionist acts, conjuring tricks and, above all, projections in which actors gave voice behind the curtain to characters on the screen. Film screenings since the 1930s have made the Nosadella one of the city’s most popular theatres.


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