Experiential journey through the historical theatres of Emilia

Behind the scenes, the arts, the history, the mysterious events of the Emilian theatres

Logo CC

The historical theatres of Emilia are revealed from new, unprecedented points of view, in an experiential journey through the architectural wonders, anecdotes and mysterious events, behind the scenes and works of art of the ancient jewels whose stages have been trodden by the great masters of music. 

Emilia, the land where the notes of Giuseppe Verdi, Arturo Toscanini, Paganini and other illustrious musicians hover, boasts numerous theatres, some of which can be visited and others open to the public for performances and concerts. 

How many lives and how many stories have been represented on the stage of a theatre: from the Teatro Regio in Parma to the Teatrino del Castello in Vigoleno (PC), to the ancient Teatro Ruggero Ruggeri in Guastalla (RE) and many others.

In three days you can visit many but not all of them, so... start planning a second trip ;-)

  • Length
    72 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - The historical theatres of Piacenza Piacenza

    The itinerary starts from Piacenza's historical centre and its Municipal Theatre, defined by Stendhal as 'the most beautiful theatre in Italy'. Refined, with its avant-garde structure, it was the first, in 1895, to be entirely lit by electric lamps.

    A visit to the Sala dei Teatini, once the church of San Vincenzo, which belonged to the Order of the Theatines, is also recommended. For years inaccessible, today it is a modern auditorium chosen as a rehearsal hall by the 'Luigi Cherubini' Youth Orchestra conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti.

    In an alley between Via Castello and Via Taverna, the Teatro San Matteo reveals in its architecture the sacred origins of a protoromanic temple. After the transformation of the San Matteo hospice into a church in the 20th century, the present theatre was used as a cinema.

  • Second stop - Gioia and Filodrammatici Theatre Piacenza

    The 'Gioia' theatre, formerly an ecclesiastical building and seat of the Jesuit Order, underwent its first conversion in the early 19th century into the 'Romagnosi' theatre, of which only the drawings remain, as it was dismantled to return to its former religious function. Jesuit activity ceased in 1992 and the building was able to return to 'profane' activities after a major conservative restoration.

    Also in Piacenza, you can visit the Teatro dei Filodrammatici, a historical building in the city, built in the 16th century, when the Cistercian nuns made it into a church. During the rule of Marie Louise of Austria, the building was used for military purposes, later as a music school, then became a printing press. Only in the 20th century was it converted into a theatre, with the addition of an auditorium with loggia, a large stage and an Art Nouveau façade.

  • Third stop - Theatres in the province of Piacenza Pontenure

    Moving away from the city of Piacenza, all the way to Castel San Giovanni there is another jewel, the Teatro Verdi, with its beautiful foyer with ancient cross vaults and the hall adapted to the appearance of the original church. It was inaugurated in 1823 and saw the debut of Anna Maria "Marietta" Baderna, a world-famous dance star, in 1841.

    Strongly desired more than a century ago by Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, the small theater in Grazzano Visconti hosted his screenplays, after all he was the founder in distant years of the "Compagnia del Teatro di Milano" but also an assiduous collaborator of the famous playwright Marco Praga, as well as the first director in the young years of his son Luchino, an undisputed master of world cinematography.

    In Pontenure, the Serra di Parco Raggio Theatre is a small theatre with a masonry stage and floral decorations located next to the 'Villa Fortunata' mansion. It is open to the public on the occasion of special events.

    Considered to be one of the smallest in the world, the Theatre of Vigoleno Castle was built at the behest of Princess Maria Ruspoli of Gramont by the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovlef, who decorated the walls of the room with bright colours and exotic designs. In the centre of the scene, a stylised representation of the medieval village recalls the magic realism of Gino Severini.

  • Fourth stop - Other theatres in the province of Piacenza Cortemaggiore

    Continuing the itinerary in the territory of Piacenza, a theatre worth a visit is the Eleonora Duse Theatre in Cortemaggiore, named in the early 20th century after the legendary actress who treaded the stage when she was only 10 years old. The theatre traces its roots back to 1826, when Marie Louise of Austria permitted work to convert the convent. It is open to the public during the annual theatre season and at regular events.

    Once again Marie Louise of Austria and once again a religious building are linked to the history of the Verdi Theatre in Fiorenzuola d'Arda, inaugurated in the restrained form designed by Giannantonio Perreau - stalls with a horseshoe layout, three tiers of boxes and a gallery - in 1853. Today it hosts a rich theatrical review every year, on the occasion of which it is open to the public.

  • Fifth stop - Theatres in the heart of Parma Parma

    We continue our journey through the city of Parma and its historic centre, where the symphonies of the Teatro Regio resound, the Italian temple of lyric music and a monument to opera built in neoclassical style starting in 1821 at the behest of Duchess Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon's second wife. On the tour you can admire the foyer and stalls decorated by Magnani and topped by the gilded bronze chandelier forged by the Lacarrière workshops in Paris, as well as the exceptional painted curtain and the Sala del Ridotto. 

    Another iconic theatre in Parma, the Teatro Farnese is always open to visitors with its structures built entirely of wood in 1618, inside the splendid Complesso della Pilotta. It is the largest theatre of its kind and the first to be built with a moveable stage. A spectacular video mapping on the walls reconstructs the original decorations through the use of projections, sounds and moving images. Under the tiers of seats one can retrace the history of the theatre intertwined with the events of the court and the city.

  • Sixth stop - Theatres in the province of Parma Busseto

    One cannot think of theatre in Emilia without mentioning Giuseppe Verdi. The precious Busseto Theatre housed inside the Rocca is dedicated to him in his birthplace. Crossing the portico and climbing the grand staircase, one is greeted by decorations by Giuseppe Baisi and Alessandro Malpeli and by Gioacchino Levi's medallions depicting Comedy, Tragedy, Melodrama and Romantic Drama. 

    Fidenza gives us the pleasure of a visit to the Magnani Theatre that preserves the ancient acoustic chamber painted by Girolamo Magnani. 

    Yet another treat is offered by Zibello with the Pallavicino Theatre, with 12 boxes, and Roccabianca with the Arena del Sole, a modern hall that preserves inside it 9 statues by E. Ximenes depicting the main characters of Verdi's operas that were part of the monument to Giuseppe Verdi in Parma.

  • Seventh stop - Romolo Valli Municipal Theatre Reggio nell'Emilia

    Arriving in the city of the Tricolour, theatre culture is strongly rooted in Reggio Emilia. As early as the second half of the 17th century, every aristocratic palace had a space used for performances. 

    The Romolo Valli Municipal Theatre is one of the most prestigious in Emilia: inaugurated in 1857, with its portico dominated by a cornice decorated with 14 statues, it has a grandiose stage, on which a valuable Montesanti organ from 1815 is installed, and a large back stage. Luciano Pavarotti's debut in Reggio in La Bohéme, in 1961, immediately after winning the Peri Prize, a competition for young opera singers to which the city of Reggio Emilia had given rise, is now history.

  • Eighth stop - Theatres in the province of Reggio Emilia Correggio

    Moving away from the historical city centre, the itinerary continues to Correggio where the Asioli Theatre is worth a visit. Named in 1863 after Antonio Allegri (a painter known as 'Correggio') and in 1880 after Bonifazio Asioli, it was built on the spot where Niccolò Postumo had his palace erected at the end of the 15th century. It was rebuilt several times, but still preserves the original design of the hall, inaugurated in 1852.

    Guastalla is home to one of the 10 oldest theatres in Italy: the Ruggero Ruggeri Theatre. It was built in 1671 to a design by Antonio Vasconi by order of Ferrante III, Duke of Guastalla. Despite the restoration work it has undergone over the centuries, its current appearance retains the horseshoe-shaped plan, the proscenium friezes, a red marquee in the atrium, the splendid frescoed ceiling decoration of the cavea, and the original layout of the façade.

  • Ninth stop - The social theatres of Luzzara and Gualtieri Luzzara

    The Danilo Donati Social Theatre in Luzzara was inaugurated in 1852 thanks to the established Luzzara Theatre Society. The theatre could hold up to 400 people, with 47 boxes divided into three tiers. The curtain, which is missing, depicted the Luzzara Fair with the Gonzaga Princes and was painted by Casali. The building underwent radical restoration in 1919 and the floor plan was changed to a semicircular shape. In 2006, restoration work was carried out on the ceiling of the stalls, made of plastered and painted wood.

    The Gualtieri Social Theatre, dating back to the early 20th century, is instead located inside the monumental complex of Palazzo Bentivoglio built between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. Completely abandoned in the late 1970s, it was only reopened to the public in 2009. Its peculiarity lies in being a "theatre in reverse": the stalls become a stage for actors and musicians, and the spectators are catapulted into the foreground. A contemporary revolution in theatre-making.

  • Tenth stop - Rubiera, Novellara and Rio Saliceto Rubiera

    Staying in the province of Reggio Emilia, a stop at the Herberia Theatre is recommended, a name that recalls the ancient place name of Rubiera. The theatre opened its curtain in 1926, showing itself in a late Art Nouveau structure designed by Antonio Panizzi and Italo Costa. Also very active as a cinema, it was closed and then reactivated, after restoration, at the end of the 1980s.

    Heir to the performance hall that had existed since the 16th century in the Gonzaga fortress, the Franco Tagliavini Theatre in Novellara reproduces in miniature the structure of the Municipal Theatre in Reggio Emilia with a horseshoe layout, three tiers of boxes with a gallery and a large stage surmounted by a clock. Designed by Antonio Tegani - who not by chance had collaborated on the construction of its 'older brother' - and finely decorated by Cesare Cervi, the theatre was inaugurated in 1868 and only in 2012 was it named after the great tenor from Novello.

    The last stop on this journey is the Municipal Theatre of Rio Saliceto, inaugurated in 1911 to a design by Pietro Montanari, it is the perfect combination of public and private construction. If the exterior is frugal and anonymous, the interior, through a series of stylistic and optical devices, presents a hybrid and eclectic style: a series of classical columns finely decorated with Corinthian capitals and contemporary architectural elements.

Last update 25/04/2024

For more information

Editorial board DT Emilia

Information offices

IAT R Piacenza
Piazza Cavalli, 7 - Piacenza (PC)
+ 39 0523 492001 iat@comune.piacenza.it Opening: all year round
IAT Grazzano Visconti, Val Nure & Val Chero
Viale del Castello, 2 - Vigolzone (PC)
+ 39 0523 870997 iat@valnure.info Opening: seasonal
IAT R Castell'Arquato
Piazza del Municipio - Castell'Arquato (PC)
+ 39 0523 803215 + 39 0523 803563 iatcastellarquato@gmail.com
IAT-R Parma
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1 - Parma (PR)
+ 39 0521 218889 turismo@comune.parma.it Opening: all year round
Tourist Information Office Busseto
Piazza Giuseppe Verdi, 10 - Busseto (PR)
+ 39 0524 92487 info@bussetolive.com Opening: all year round
IAT Reggio Emilia
Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 1/A - Reggio nell'Emilia (RE)
+ 39 0522 451152 iat@comune.re.it Opening: all year round

You may also like...

OFFICIAL TOURIST INFORMATION SITE © 2024 Emilia-Romagna Region Tourism and Commerce Department