Teatro La Fenice

Venice, Italy | C.1792

Photo Credit: Scott Ball

When the Nobile Società di Palchettisti (Noble Association of Box-holders) named Teatro La Fenice, they couldn’t have had any idea of the destiny they sealed into the Venetian opera house’s future.

In April 1792, Teatro La Fenice (The Phoenix Theatre) was born. A few years prior, a judicial ruling forced the Nobile Società to give up the first of their opera houses to a noble family who owned the land. The Nobile Società named their new opera house “The Phoenix” to commemorate the “rebirth” of their beloved theater. This time adorned with five levels of gold-gilded pepiano, tiers of boxes that decorate the theater’s interior perimeter like a decadent layered cake.

Decades later in the early 1800s, the Phoenix was reduced to ashes after “high-tech” Austrian heaters ignited a fire that burned for three days and smoldered another three weeks. Undeterred, The Phoenix was reconstructed and ready for its first show within months of the blaze – a remarkable feat that came with a cost. The haste of The Phoenix’s resurrection necessitated urgent restoration less than two decades later.

Fast forward to 1996, during another period of restoration, arsonists set fire to the opera house. While little remains from the original theater, architect Aldo Rossi took elaborate care in rebuilding The Phoenix “how it was, where it was”, and with even more attention to original paintings, acoustics, seating capacity and stage equipment. The resulting ambience, which took nearly a decade and €90 million to complete, is nothing short of majestic.

While we’re assured the current theater is outfitted with modern fire prevention systems these days, please remember, no smoking in your seat – we wouldn’t want to risk requiring the theatre to rise from the ashes once again.

:memo: Written by: Sam Jacobson

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