The Teatro Morlacchi, the major theater in town, is in the historical center of Perugia, in Piazza Morlacchi, next to the University Faculty of Literature and Philosophy.
In 1777, the Perugian bourgeoisie, animated by Annibale Mariotti, decided to build a new theater in emulation of the nobles, who had built their own theater, the Teatro Pavone.
It was with this intent that ninety families constituted an association, the “Society for the construction of a new theater”, and bought an old convent previously occupied by some nuns and confided the project to the Perugian architect Alessio Lorenzini. Lorenzini endowed the Theater with a horseshoe-shaped floor plan and five orders of boxes for an audience total capacity of one thousand and two hundred seats.
The ceiling and the stage curtain were decorated by Baldassarre Orsini, while Carlo Spiridone Mariotti executed the sixteen cameos of the vault and the medallions with Icarus sacrificing to Bacchus the Poetic Drama, Tragedy, Comedy and the Pastoral Drama; Giovanni Cappelli decorated the parapets of the boxes and painted a Bacchic scene on the proscenium ceiling, while the stuccowork was executed by Giovanni Battista Cronici. In 1874, the theater was completely renewed and reopened to the public with the performance of the Aida. The work of restructuring was done by Francesco Moretti, Matteo Tassi, Lucio Angeloni and the architect Guglielmo Calderini, while Mariano Piervitori executed a new allegorical representation depicting Arts and Literature on the ceiling, and Tempera-painted the stage curtain with a local historical theme illustrating the Return of Biordo Michelotti to Perugia in 1398.
Morlacchi Theater has hosted many high level actors, like Irma Gramatica, Virgilio Talli, and Oreste Calabrese. Its activity had been constant up to the beginning of the 20th century, but suffered a decay period under the years of fascism, to the point of being subjected to requisition by the German troops during their occupation of the town in World War II, who used it for performances for their soldiers. At the end of the war, the theater was severely damaged, therefore the Municipality—to which it was handed over between 1951 and 1953—financed the work of restoration, which consisted of the remaking of the roof and ceiling and modifying the stage, the orchestra pit and the marble floors of the atrium and foyer.
Currently the Theater audience has a total of 785 seats available. The stage is 20 meters wide and 10,5 meters long. Its proscenium is 10,5 meters wide.
Francesco Giuseppe Baldassarre Morlacchi (Perugia, 14 June 1784-Innsbruck, 28 October 1841)—to whom the Theater is dedicated—was an Italian opera composer and one of the main personalities responsible for the spreading of Italian opera abroad.
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