Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending a performance of La Boheme at Florence’s ultra modern opera house. It was a fabulous experience!
Soon I’ll post about the performance, but for now I want to focus on the building itself.
Unusual for an Italian city, the new opera house complex includes green space.
Florence is, of course, the city where opera was born in 1597 and where opera has been performed in numerous venues including, for many years, a functional but ungainly theater called the Teatro Comunale. When Matteo Renzi was mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014, among his projects was this new opera house and concert hall, not far from the Teatro Comunale.
Renzi, who became prime minister of Italy at the age of 39, was an audacious and controversial leader, but there is no denying that he effectively set the national discussion on a new course.
Before Renzi became Prime Minister, some laws were passed that tried to reform arts funding and administration in Italy. These laws require, in exchange for federal money, more administrative control from Rome of some of the fondazioni—the entities that run the 14 important theaters in Italy that present opera.
The New Florence Opera House, is one of the most innovative in all of Europe. After years of deliberating the need to provide Florence, and its renowned opera festival Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, with a modern venue, at last this new complex took shape.
The complex is comprised of three large and spacious halls: the opera hall, built with special walls that direct soundwaves towards the audience without echoing; the concert hall which holds 1000 seats; and the spectacular rooftop amphitheater, which offers 2000 outdoor seats with an captivating panoramic view of the city.
With its stark, modern structure and cutting-edge technologies, the new opera house is one of the most modern opera houses in the world, uniting modernity and antiquity, vision and tradition, in the city that gave birth to the first opera in the 1600s.
For this reason the opera house is open and accessible to the public during daytime hours. The bookshop and café will be always open and families can go for a walk, wander among the fountains, or meet with friends on the grounds.
The project was undertaken by the Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri with funds made available (150 million Euro grant) for the celebration of the 150th anniversary (in 2011) of the unification of Italy and with contributions from the Regione Toscana and the city of Florence. A 255 million Euro public investment partially financed the ambitious project of the New Florence Opera House which represents.
The theater also boasts one of the most technologically advanced scene-changing mechanisms in the world that enables rapid scenography changes so as to allow even multiple and simultaneous performances in the same day, increasing the theater’s potential.
Presidenza del Consiglio di Ministri
Executive Officer Dr. Elisabetta Fabbri (Architect)
Project Manager Dr. Giacomo Parenti (Engineer)
Director of Works Dr. Giorgio Caselli (Architect)
Contractors A.T. I : S.A.C Spa e I.G.I.T Spa
Project Coordinator Dr. Angelo Reale (Engineer)
Executor Co-ordinator of the project and its operative phases Dr. Angela Ranieri (Engineer)
Architects Studio A.B.D.R – Roma
Structural Design Italingegneria – Roma
Systems Design Enetec – Roma
Acoustics Müller – BBM Monaco
In Florence, I believe, one of the problems is that despite the city’s history with opera, it is not widely popular with local people and with the millions of visitors who come here for days of intensive touring of museums full of the masterpieces. And with the old and new theaters slightly out of the heart of tourist traffic, no one walks past them as part of a stay here.
Construction on the new theater (based on designs by Paolo Desderi) began in 2009 and it was inaugurated on December 21, 2011 so that it could be said to have opened in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. It was quickly closed after one concert as it was nowhere near complete. It has had a couple of more “openings” and its official one was on May 10, 2014.