Designed by the architect Giannantonio Selva, the opera house carrying the name of Phoenix - La Fenice - opened its doors in 1792 as one of the theatre world's most beautiful symbols of overcoming the destructive force of fire, making the Venice Opera, consumed by a fire a few years earlier, rise from the ashes in new splendour and become one of the most significant and exquisite musical venues in the whole of Italy.
It is at la Fenice that a number of the world's greatest operas have been performed first, including the likes of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata and Rigoletto, Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, Sergei Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel and Luigi Nono's Intolleranza 1960. Two months after Richard Wagner's demise in Venice, La Fenice staged all four parts of Das Ring des Nibelungen, the opera cycle that should transform anyone who has undergone the experience of seeing and hearing it.
A symbol of overcoming fire, La Fenice itself has suffered from it repeatedly - most recently in 1996 when, during scheduled renovation works, the building burnt down to the ground as a result of arson.
The opera house was painstakingly rebuilt according to photographs and newsreel footage; finally, equipped with state-of-the-art technology which helped recreate and even improve its legendary acoustics, La Fenice opened its doors again with a new production of Verdi's La Traviata - interestingly, choosing the original version that saw the light of the day on 6 March 1853, at the world premiere of the opera, instead of the version usually performed today.
Keywords: Opera House, Venice