The theatre - Opera Carlo Felice Genova
Built on the area of its old structure, the new theatre Opera Carlo Felice was built by the company Mario Valle s.p.a. of Arenzano based on the project by the architects Aldo Rossi, Ignazio Gardella, Fabio Reinhart and Angelo Sibilla. The new Carlo Felice theatre draws on an idea already present in the projects of Paolo Chessa and Carlo Scarpa: the creation of a covered square of 400 m² where the theatre is the ideal connection between Galleria Mazzini and Piazza De Ferrari. From an architectural perspective, the Galleria Mazzini and the theatre are distant.
The square is an open foyer: the walls are covered with stone slabs and enriched with metal columns and beams..
The architects maintained two specific aspects in the construction of the new theatre: the need to rebuild it exactly where it was and the desire to provide the new structure with the most advanced technology. Therefore, they built a prominent 63-meters high scenic tower.
What remains of the old building are the columns, the pronaos, the Latin inscription and the terrace overlooking Via XXV Aprile, accessible from one of the foyer remains of the old Barabino opera theatre. The current structure is quite compact and geometric, the scenic tower is a parallelepiped developed through a very linear height, enriched by a mere cornice. The stalls, the foyers and the service rooms for the audience are contained in a smaller parallelepiped, on which the pronaos and the portico stand out.
As for the construction of the new theatre, stone, the exterior part is composed of plaster and iron, while marble and wood were used for the interior spaces. Such durable materials suggest an image of eternity, safety and resilience of the building over time.
From the covered square, going down a staircase, one can access a room with a 200-seats capacity equipped with a small stage and independent from the rest of the theatre. Such a room hosts conventions, conferences and musical meetings.
From the theatre entrance, a wide staircase leads to the wardrobes and, further up, to the first foyer, with an area of 660 square meters and enriched with frescoes and tapestries.
The Curtain of Nerone Ceccarelli
Designed by architects Aldo Rossi, Ignazio Gardella and Angelo Sibilla, the parterre and the stage sector of the theatre are separated by a fire curtain, which is included among the works of art commissioned by the municipality of Genoa.
The winner of the competition was Giovanni Ceccarelli, also known as Nero – born in Pisa and ideally adopted by the city of Turin – with his work Viva Schöenberg.
“The project – wrote Nero to present his work – suggests renouncing the idea of realizing a painting with traditional techniques, proposing a pictorial work whose creation facilitates reading, considering the distance separating the audience from the stage. (…) From a careful study of the harmonic lines of the theatre (marked horizontally by the walls and terraces-stage), the idea was born for a vertical line, as if to represent a hypothetical Gothic cathedral or even an organ.”
The curtain’s size is about two hundred square meters and is divided into 125 panels: “A work that lasted over two months, from the creation of the cardboards to their implementation with the intended material” stated Nerone. “I opted for a lightweight and resistant aluminum, similar to what I used in aviation. I also used copper, brass, pewter, silver, and gold. The choice of colors was dictated by the environment which the curtain is placed in.
The copper recalls the wood of the balustrades, and the gray pewter recalls the stone walls.”
In addition, Nerone writes that “Such a work, which will be very bright, dwells on a false perspective of a reflective metal, allowing spectators and orchestra members to look at themselves in a mirror and creating a dynamic area.”
The reflective part recalls the sea, representing Genova, and transforms into a gallery overpassing the curtain, expressing the continuity of Opera Carlo Felice, still standing despite its past.
In an abstract and dreamy vision, the curtain wants to recall the Genoese environment, the Carlo Felice del Barabino and the new one, the music (a string instrument stands in the center): “The architectural structure of the theatre’s interior” – continued the artist – recalls a square featuring Genoese characteristics, where the large luminous patch placed in the highest part of the work is an outlet of the square itself and which, although recalling the ruptures caused by the war, suggests the presence of a lighthouse pointing up to the sky. The large triangle divides the work into two periods: the depiction of both old and new Carlo Felice theatre. At the center, we can sense a hypothetical meeting or embrace with a precise meaning: despite so many adversities, music continues to impose itself among the highest expressions of man’s intellect”. Roberto Iovino
A characteristic element of the new Carlo Felice is the lantern, visible in the foyer above the entrance, a sort of luminous cone running across the building in all its height and its floors, bringing light from the roof to the covered square.
The technical units operate in the unique environment of the scenic tower, lodging the shows-moving machine, where human work and sophisticated gears merge in a delicate balance. The theatre has four stages: a main stage, a dorsal stage behind the main one and two lower stages, aligned with each other and managed by integrated and computerized electronic systems.
Such stage systems, computerized lights, sophisticated control booths for filming and some of the best acoustics in Italy are among the features that make Opera Carlo Felice one of the most important and emotional stages in Italy.
Total volume: 230000 m³
Volume for scenes and stage services: 118000 m³
106.000 mc è il volume sala e zone collegate
Volume above ground: 151000 m³
Underground volume: 79000 m³
Surface of the main stage: 574 m²
368 m² Surface of the dorsal stage:
Total surface of the understage: 1760 m²
Maximum distance between the proscenium and the spectators: 44 m
Size of the proscenium: 10 x 16 m
Height of the grated surface: 31.5 m
Seats in the main hall: 2.000
Seats in the conference room: 206
Elements of the orchestra: 88
Dressing rooms: 18
Rehearsal rooms available to the orchestra: 1 + 9
Rehearsal room in sections available to the chorus: 1 + 1
Rehearsal room in sections available to the corps de ballet: 1 + 1
Rooms for individual study available to singers: 3
Rehearsal room for the direction: 1
Interchangeable stages + 1 double crown swivel: 3
Total cost: 120 billion lire (about 60 million euros)
Annual number of visitors: 200.000
Permanent workers at the theatre: 278