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Massimo Bellini Theater • Catania
The Massimo Bellini Theater, built on a project by the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, was inaugurated in 1890. Center of the musical life of Catania, many great 20th century musicians passed on its stage. Traditional theater with choir and orchestra, it is managed by the Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini Autonomous Regional Authority.


At the Massimo Bellini Theater and each year they carry out an opera season and a symphonic and chamber season. Many concerts are repeated in places in Sicily and an intense promotional activity is carried out by small instrumental and vocal ensembles formed by elements of the orchestra and choir.

The Massimo Theater “Vincenzo Bellini”, Driving force of the musical life of Catania, was built on a project by the Milanese architect Carlo Sada. Opened in 1890, over the course of its 130 years of existence, the Massimo has seen many of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century pass on the tables of his stage: from Gino Marinuzzi to Vittorio Gui, from Antonio Guarnieri to Georg Solti, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Alain Lombard, by Toti Dal Monte to Maria Callas, Monserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto is Mirella Freni, from Tito Schipa to Beniamino Gigli is Franco Corelli, from Pertile to Of Monaco to Of Stefano; from Galeffi to Bechi, to Gobbi, from Luciano Pavarotti to Leo Nucci, and has represented practically all the masterpieces of musical theater, from Mozart to Berg, as well as several contemporary works.

Massimo Bellini has aOrchestra, founded in 1951, made up of a hundred professors, of a Choir stable, a large group of stage technicians, and scenographic workshops that in recent years have created Ezio Frigerio, Pet Halmen, Maurizio Balò, Hugo de Ana, Luciano Ricceri, Dante Ferretti, Franca Squarciapino. The shows were curated by directors such as Pierre Ponnelle, Werner Herzog, Claude D'Anna, Gilbert Deflo, Giuliano Montaldo, Denis Krief.


In the decades following the sumptuous inauguration of the 1890 with Norm of Bellini, less significant periods alternated with others of artistic splendor. In 1944, the resumption of performances after the closure imposed by the war events, opened a decade studded with names of absolute value, including Ferruccio Tagliavini, Maria Caniglia, Beniamino Gigli, Gino Bechi, Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas as Norma in the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vincenzo Bellini (1951).

In 1955 for the inauguration of the season, the Bellini hosted the newly elected President of the Republic Giovanni Gronchi. Among the many notable events of the following years, The dialogues of the Carmelites of Francis Poulenc (1959), defined as the best staging of the work by the same author; the concert of Igor Stravinsky, who performed in the aftermath of the assassination of John Kennedy on November 3, 1963, dedicated his performance to his late friend; the belliniana Beatrice of Tenda directed by Vittorio Gui, hero Raina Kabaivanska (1966), the first of Moses by Rossini directed by Gavazzeni (1970).

Meanwhile, at the end of the 1950s, the direction of the Theater was entrusted toCatanese Music Organization, a mixed public and private body, to be managed by the Municipality of Catania in 1966.

In 1986, at the end of troubled political and trade union events that had led to the expulsion of the public, the Massimo Bellini Theater with the law of the Sicilian Region acquired the status of Autonomous Regional Body. In March 2002 the Sicilian Region started the transformation of the Autonomous Body into Foundation, to report the "Bellini" a Regional Autonomous Opera Body in April 2007.

The management of Massimo Bellini, recognized Theater of Tradition, is still entrusted to the Regional Autonomous Body, which takes care of the Seasons of opera, symphony and chamber music. Many concerts are replicated in decentralization in various locations in Sicily, and an intense one promotional activity it is performed by small instrumental and vocal ensembles formed by elements of the orchestra and choir.

Massimo Bellini Theater • Catania
The making of the Massimo Bellini Theater of Catania was started in 1870 based on the architect's project Andrea Scala (Udine 1820 - 1892) specialized in theatrical constructions, who conducted the works assisted by the young man Carlo Sada (Milan 1849 - Catania 1924).

The Politeama Anonymous Company which financed the initiative, after a few years gave way to the Municipality due to insufficient funds. The municipal commission therefore decided to complete the structure by changing its intended use, from Politeama useful to a wide range of shows, including equestrian ones, to a purely opera theater, and in the 1880 he entrusted the necessary modifications and completion of the building to the architect Sada, with an allocation of 605,000 lire (the total cost of the work was approximately one million lire at the time).

The works proceeded and in the space of seven years the theater was completed. However, you have to wait for the official opening, as there were no funds to be allocated to the entrepreneur who had to manage it, and just in that period a cholera epidemic occurred, which diverted attention from every other problem. Finally three years later, the May 31, 1890, the inauguration took place in grand style with "Norm”, The masterpiece of Vincenzo Bellini.


The room of the Massimo Bellini Theater, richly decorated, has four tiers of boxes beyond the gallery, with a current capacity of 1200 seats. Characterized by its horseshoe shape, it is known for itsexcellent acoustics, defined as "the best in the world" by the famous tenor Beniamino Gigli.

The painting of the time, the work of the Florentine decorator and painter Ernesto Bellandi (1842 - 1916), represents the apotheosis of Bellini, raised by the Muses in the presence of Apollo, god of music and poetry, high on the solar chariot in the act of extending the lyre. The central scene is surrounded by four lunettes depicting the main works of the composer from Catania, Norma, The sleepwalker, The Puritans is The Capulets and Montecchi, and four allegorical medallions referring to Music, Dance, Tragedy is Comedy. The decoration of the vault closes with a frieze inside which eight monochrome medallions are inserted with the effigies of the composers Cimarosa, Rossini, Donizetti, Coppola, Pacini, Verdi, as well as Goldoni and Alfieri.

Also noteworthy is the historical curtain realized by Giuseppe Sciuti (Zafferana Etnea 1834 - Rome 1911), a painter at the time highly appreciated and very successful, depicting a legendary episode, "The triumph of the Catanesi over the Libyans". Due to its size, the gigantic tarpaulin, spread over an area of 140 square meters, was painted in a room of Palazzo Venezia in Rome, made available by the Austrian ambassador to the Holy See.

Upstairs are the large spaces of the Reduced (today the foyer), at the entrance of which is the large one bronze statue in honor of Bellini, the work of Except Giordano. Composed of various rooms and galleries, including the central hall with a balcony for the orchestra, the Ridotto is decorated with stuccoes, mirrors and paintings with the stories of Aci and Galatea by the painter and scenographer from Catania Natale Attanasio (Catania 1845 - Rome 1923).

The exterior of the theater, decorated with statues and allegorical reliefs and a series of busts depicting famous composers, is characterized by the forepart with a portico for the entrance of the carriages, and by the lateral bridge wings that connect to the adjoining buildings.
Author: Sabine Frantellizzi
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