Key to Umbria: Spoleto

Theatres in Spoleto

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Two theatres in Walk I now provide the main indoor venues for the annual Festival dei Due Mondi.

Teatro Caio Melisso (1877-80) 

The Accademia degli Ottusi (literally the academy of the obtuse, later the Accademia Spoletina) founded one of the first theatres in Umbria in ca. 1644 on a site in Piazza del Duomo

The interior was redecorated in 1819 but the result was extremely unpopular, and provoked an attempt to burn the theatre down in 1853.  It was seriously eclipsed when Teatro Nuovo (see below) opened in 1864.

The Commune subsequently built this new theatre on the site, which was named for Caius Melissus.  He was a slave from Roman Spoletium who became a friend of Maecenas, and who became the librarian of the court of the Emperor Augustus after achieving his freedom.

Domenico Bruschi decorated the interior in ca. 1880. This work included:

  1. the apotheosis of Caius Melissus, on the fire curtain; and

  2. the fresco of Apollo and the muses, on the ceiling.

Teatro Nuovo (1854-64) 

The Commune decided to build a new theatre here in 1840 because the original theatre on the site of Teatro Caio Melisso (see above) had become dilapidated.   The project involved the demolition of Sant’ Andrea.   The elderly residents moved to San Paolo inter Vineas.  Marchese Filippo Marignoli donated additional land and contributed the majority of the necessary finance. 

The interior decoration was commissioned from the Roman artist Giuseppe MasellaFrancesco Coghetti painted the scene on the fire curtain in 1861: it depicts the defeat of Hannibal outside Spoleto.

This page in the website of Opere Pubbliche del Regione Umbria describes the recent restoration of the theatre.

Return to Monuments of Spoleto.

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