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Coccia Theater • Novara
The Coccia Theater in Novara, designed by the Milanese Giuseppe Oliverio, was inaugurated in 1888, but completed only in 1928. It stands on the site of the previous Teatro Nuovo (1779), and is one of the most important historical theaters in Piedmont. Theater of Tradition since 1967, since 2004 the Coccia Theater has been managed by the homonymous Foundation.


The Coccia Theater sets up a season including opera, dance, concerts, prose, accompanied by events, programs for families, comedians, variety, jazz aperitifs.

The current building of the Coccia Theater of Novara, inaugurated in 1888 and the work of the Milanese architect Giuseppe Oliverio, stands on the remains of the previous eighteenth-century theater, designed by the pontifical architect Cosimo Morelli (Imola 1732 - 1812). Novara's first theater, built on the initiative of the city aristocracy gathered in the Palchettisti Society, was completed in a short time: started in 1777, it was inaugurated in 1779 with the name of New Theater. The structure reflected the technical and acoustic knowledge of Morelli, already famous as a theatrical architect, as well as for the numerous churches and palaces; during his career he built a dozen theaters, several of which are still in use (Macerata, Fermo, Jesi).

The New Theater in 1873 came titled - a few months after his death - to the famous composer Carlo Coccia (Naples 1782 - Novara 1873), choirmaster of the Novara Cathedral for more than thirty years and first director of the Brera Music Institute.

Over the years, the Morellian building proved to be unsuitable for the changed theatrical and social needs of the time, both for the stage of insufficient size and for the now too small capacity.

If on the one hand the modern melodramas, dances and circus performances required much larger spaces, on the other hand the city was in continuous evolution, with a marked demographic increase and with the rise of a new urban bourgeoisie interested in participating in life social and cultural, but also attracted to new types of entertainment.

In 1853-55 therefore the Social Theater, which immediately entered into competition with the Teatro Nuovo: in a certain sense, the two theaters reflected the dichotomy of the society of the time, one a seat of the aristocracy, with traditional operatic performances, the other frequented by the city bourgeoisie , with the offer of new types of shows and entertainment.

Novara had a further impetus with the construction of two impressive architectural works, both designed by Alessandro Antonelli (Ghemme, Novara 1798 - Turin 1888), the famous architect and engineer who created the Mole Antonelliana in Turin: the reconstruction of the Cathedral (1857 - 1869) and the construction of the spectacular dome of San Gaudenzio, with its 121 meters of height, which has become a modern hallmark of the city.

A new theater suited to the development and importance assumed by the city was by now felt as an urgent need. The same Alessandro Antonelli already around 1860 had proposed the merger of the Teatro Nuovo with the Teatro Sociale, to unify the various types of shows in a single building, but the majestic project was judged too expensive and disproportionate to the requests and financial resources of the city.

In 1880 the Municipal Administration, however intending to replace both buildings with a new theater, finally decided to purchase both the Teatro Sociale and the Coccia ex Nuovo Theater (dissolving the Coccia Palchettisti Society). The following year, 1881, the Milanese architect Giuseppe Oliverio revised the construction plan of the new permanent theater initially presented by Andrea Scala - famous architect specializing in the construction of theatrical buildings - considered too expensive.

Finally, having discarded the hypothesis of a single new theater, amidst the conflicting requests in favor of the renovation of the Sociale rather than the rebuilding of the Coccia, the municipal commission specifically set up opted for the latter, entrusting the construction to the architect Oliverio. Decisive had been the stance in this sense of the Mayor of Novara, the Marquis Luigi Tornielli, who coordinated the Coccia Palchettisti Society, which had in the meantime been reconstituted.

In 1886 the first stone of the new building was laid, built partly with the material of the ancient theater which was almost completely demolished. The new Coccia Theater was built on the same site as the previous one, but four times larger and with a different orientation. The work was financed in part by the Municipality of Novara, which granted the area of the old Coccia for construction and 220,000 lire for construction, and in part by private individuals, with the subscription of 49 shares of 5,000 lire each to cover the remaining expenses.

The new Coccia Theater was inaugurated on December 22nd 1888 with the opera "Gli Huguenots" by Giacomo Meyerbeer, under the direction of the very young Arturo Toscanini. The theater designed by Giuseppe Oliverio, for budgetary reasons, was only definitively completed in 1928. In the same year the Teatro Sociale was demolished to make way for the Palazzo delle Poste: the Coccia Theater thus consolidated itself as a center of Novara's theatrical and musical life.


Recognized by the state as Theater of Tradition since the establishment of the qualification in 1967, the Coccia Theater remained the property of the Società dei Palchettisti until the mid-1980s. After almost a century it was bought by Municipality of Novara, which proceeded with the renovation and adaptation of the building, reopening it in 1993.

In 2004 the management of the Theater passed from the Municipality to Carlo Coccia Theater Foundation of Novara, later recognized as Onlus.

Most recent, of 2020/21, are further works aimed at safety and compliance, concluded with the return of the Coccia Theater to the city on 24 September 2021.

Coccia Theater • Novara
After the inauguration of the 1888 with Arturo Toscanini, another notable event took place at the Coccia Theater on December 21st 1893, when the second version of the Manon Lescaut of Giacomo Puccini.

The Corriere della Sera in an article published in 1932, defined the Coccia Theater as the antechamber for the Teatro alla Scala. The flattering epithet was due to the fact that many great lyric artists of the time had made their debut on the Novara stage, including the tenor Antonio Melandri and the sopranos Carmen Melis is Sara Scuderi. On the podium the prestigious sticks of Gino Marinuzzi, Antonino Palminteri, Pietro Mascagni, Alberto Franchetti, Federico Del Cupolo, to name only the best known. To remember then the multiple presences of artists such as Gina Cigna, Lina Pagliughi, Toti Dal Monte, Tito Schipa, Aureliano Pertile, Carlo Galeffi, Galliano Masini and many others.

In the 1940s, the Novarese was on the podium of Coccia for the first time Guido Cantelli, a director of extraordinary talent, highly esteemed by Toscanini, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1956, at the age of 36. In 1967 the victory at Cantelli Award, competition for young conductors, brought to the fore  Riccardo Muti.

In the following years, until the end of the 70s, the seasons of the Coccia Theater always had great protagonists: among the singers, Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Boris Cristoff, among the directors Franco Patanè, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Alberto Zedda. Luchino Visconti he signed a direction of The Traviata in the 1964/65 season. From the mid-1980s the Coccia Theater, purchased by the Municipality of Novara, underwent extensive restoration work, and reopened in 1993 with a concert byLa Scala Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Riccardo Muti. In the following years, singers such as Katia Ricciarelli, Luciana Serra, Cecilia Gasdia, Alberto Gazale, Franco Vassallo, Patrizia Ciofi, Giorgio Zancanaro, Stefania Bonfadelli, Dīmītra Theodosiou, Roberto Aronica, Bruno Praticò is Jessica Pratt; directors and directors like Nello Santi, Matteo Beltrami, Bruno Aprea, Franco Zeffirelli, Pierluigi Pizzi, Dario Argento, Daniele Abbado.

Recently, in the 2020/21, further adaptation works were carried out, and the Coccia Theater was returned to the city on 24 September 2021, with the concert of theRai National Symphony Orchestra: a third inauguration, after that of 22 December 1888 with Arturo Toscanini, and of 21 February 1993 with Riccardo Muti.


The imposing building of the Coccia Theater, designed by Giuseppe Oliverio, is surrounded by a large porch in pink Baveno granite. L'lobby, decorated with a mosaic floor, it was enriched by four cast iron columns and four niches decorated with busts of Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini, Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti; in the stalls were the busts of Saverio Mercadante and Carlo Coccia.

The big room internal, ivory color with gold decorations, is presented in the characteristic shape a Horseshoe, with three orders of antlers surmounted by tunnel. The boxes, with Renaissance decorations, were originally equipped with private dressing rooms and backstages.

The stage, designed to accommodate even the then popular equestrian shows that required large spaces, is large, 14 meters at the proscenium for 23 meters deep, and was equipped with a mobile central area.  
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