Teatro Argentina, built in 1730 by the wealthy Italian family of Sforza Cesarini, counts among the oldest theatres in Rome.
The wooden structure was encased by brick walls only from the outside; the only other non-wooden feature in the whole building was the stone staircase. To make the visibility and audibility perfect, the auditorium was designed u-shaped and housed forty rows of wooden benches. On 31 January 1732 the theatre was ceremoniously unveiled with a performance of Domenico Sarro's Berenice opera. The magnificent opening performance was followed by a regular repertoire of theatre productions and concerts. Foreign guests visiting the Eternal City in the 18th century were unanimous: Teatro Argentina was definitely the most significant theatre house in Rome.
Since the 18th century the building has undergone serious renovation; it was given its current, previously non-existent, façade in the 19th century.
In 1816 Teatro Argentina was the venue of the first ever performance of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
All of the best Italian theatre companies have performed at Teatro Argentina in the 20th century; it was also the place where the great German artist Pina Bausch and her Tanztheater Wuppertal company created their Viktor and O Dido, two works dedicated to the city of Rome - also arguably two of the most beautiful productions in the history of performing arts.
The historical building is currently home to Teatro di Roma, and the ancient and roomy auditorium with its five balconies is respected as one of the most prestigious venues for the greatest stage works created worldwide. Teatro Argentina also houses the Rome Theatre Museum.
Like every other square inch of the Eternal City, the site of Teatro Argentina boasts an even more ancient history than the actual theatre building: this was the location of Curia Pompeii, the grand Senate auditorium where Julius Caesar was assassinated.
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Keywords: theatre, theatres, Rome, Italy