7 things to know about Massimo Theater
1) The Massimo Theater was originally built in the late 19th century by Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, and was intended to be one of the largest theatre in Europe. The Teatro Massimo is the largest theater in Italy. Basile was inspired by ancient and classical Sicilian architecture and, thus, the exterior was designed to reflect that.
2) The auditorium was planned for 3,000 people, but, in its current format, it seats 1,381, with 7 tiers of boxes rising up around an inclined stage, and shaped in the typical horseshoe style.
Due to a number of financial and political problems, construction of the theatre was not completed until 1891 – four years after Basile’s death.
3) It represents a significant milestone not only in the history of Sicily, but also in Italian theatre history as a whole. It was here that Verdi’s operas Aida and Otello premiered.
4) The Massimo Theater finally opened its doors in 1897 with a production of Verdi’s Aida. Unfortunately, due to World War II, the theatre was forced to close its doors in 1944
5) In 1974, the house was closed to complete renovations required by updated safety regulations, but due to a lack of funding, the project dragged on for over two decades.
6) The Massimo finally reopened in 1997, and is now once again one of the leading opera houses in Italy. Today, the Massimo stages around 60 operas per year, as well as a symphony season and other special events
7) Today, the Massimo is home to some of the world’s most talented opera singers and is one of Italy’s most prestigious opera houses. If you’re ever in Sicily, be sure to check out a performance at the Massimo – you won’t be disappointed!
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