The public is hereby informed that, in accordance with the provisions of Legislative Decree of 24 December 2021, access to spaces open to the public managed by the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti (Teatro Donizetti, Teatro Sociale and Casa natale di Donizetti) will be allowed only to persons in possession of a Super Green Pass and mask FFP2. Verification of the Super Green Pass will be carried out at the entrance to the theatre by the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti's staff and will be done by showing the QR code of the green certificate and a valid identity document. Those who are not in possession of either of these documents will not be allowed to attend the performance or visit. We would also like to remind you that a mask FFP2 must be worn during the whole visit or performance. In order to speed up the verification of certifications, the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti will increase the number of access points for the public. At the same time, the Foundation invites all spectators and visitors to cooperate as much as possible. We thank you for your attention. The Donizetti Theatre Foundation of Bergamo
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As for the theatre building, in the early 1960s the Municipal Administration promoted significant interventions aimed at modernising the Donizetti Theatre. Various interior spaces were renovated, and new rooms were built, including the Foyer, enriched by a fresco depicting a Theatre of the World. The Foyer, named after Gianandrea Gavazzeni, was enlarged following a significant project. Finally, between 2007 and 2008, work was carried out on various innovations in the rooms on the second floor and on the night lighting of the façade. In 2014 the Theatre was taken over by the newly founded Fondazione Teatro Donizetti (Donizetti Theatre Foundation). In February 2018, new restoration work began on the Donizetti Theatre, an extensive renovation and renewal project that aimed to make the city’s Theatre a home for culture, a lively and open place, a unique meeting, and socialising space, a truly public, prestigious and at the same time familiar place. The project included the restoration and conservation of all the monumental parts of the building. Specific care was devoted to the theatre hall and the entrance foyer. Specific care was devoted to the theatre hall and the entrance foyer. The furniture and upholstery were completely renovated. New fire escapes and a lift to all the entrances to the boxes and gallery were built; the Theatre was also equipped with air conditioning. The sides of the building (on the Donizetti monument side and Porta Nuova side) were completely renovated and housed the new offices, dressing rooms and choir rooms. The side elevations were designed to ensure formal coherence between the volumes. Everything was adapted to meet current safety standards. Restoration work on the Donizetti Theatre was suspended in November 2019 to welcome the public to the building site for the world premiere of the opera L’ange de Nisida which Donizetti had written for the Parisian Théâtre de la Renaissance (1839-1840), but which had never reached the stage. The opera lived on in the Theatre, which was still a building site. The artists performed in the space of the stalls free of chairs, the chorus sang from the balconies, in the boxes and from a tribune mounted on the stage the audience listened. Today the Donizetti Theatre is completely suitable for modern performances and large audiences. << Previous << Next >> >>
Returning to 1966, in that year the Municipality took over the management of the Theatre. In 1968 the Donizetti was included, by government measure, in the list of "Teatri di tradizione", in recognition of its cultural identity. The Theatre carried out a production activity that was not only generically lyrical or concert-related, but was channelled in a specific direction, that of safeguarding, rediscovering and re-proposing Donizetti’s production, inserted however in the culture of the time. In 1973, with the opera Il Sogno by Roman Vlad, the experience of the Teatro delle Novità (Theatre of New Features) came to an end. For the recognition of the lesser-known Donizetti, in 1982 the “Donizetti e il suo tempo” (Donizetti and his time) Festival was launched, an event that aimed to study and rediscover the great composer from Bergamo in relation to the musical, cultural, and social climate of the years in which he lived. The biennial Donizetti Prize, is also worth mentioning, in recognition of performers who, during their careers, have contributed authoritatively to the appreciation of the composer’s art. << Previous << Next >> >>
In the 1960s and 1990s, the range of shows and events was vast: prose, operas and concerts dominated the seasons, but there were also “new” presences such as the International Piano Festival, musical comedies, operettas, “Bergamo Jazz” and “Canzoni d'Autore” (“Songwriters’ Songs) festivals and much more.The Municipal Administration promoted a modern theatre policy, and the advice of Benvenuto Cuminetti, Professor of Theatre and Entertainment History at the University of Bergamo and artistic consultant for the theatre programming of the prose seasons and collateral activities, was fundamental.In 1969, the International Jazz Festival was founded, organised by the Azienda Autonoma del Turismo and of which the current Bergamo Jazz Festival is the natural heir. Already that year, internationally renowned musicians such as Cannonball Adderley and Maynard Ferguson performed on the stage of the Donizetti Theatre. This was followed by Gerry Mulligan, Herbie Hancock, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, with a concert that attracted much public and critical attention, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and many others until 1975. From 1976 to 1978 the Festival moved to the Palazzetto dello Sport and was then interrupted for a few years before resuming its journey temporarily in 1982 and 1983. In 1991 Bergamo Jazz was inaugurated by the Municipality of Bergamo and, from the following year, great jazz was brought back to the Donizetti Theatre: Michel Petrucciani, Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Gato Barbieri, Brad Mehldau, John Scofield, McCoy Tyner, Bill Frisell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Italians Enrico Rava and Paolo Fresu are just some of the names that brought the Bergamo Jazz Festival back to the forefront of Italian and international music news. << Previous << Next >> >>
A vital element of the activity that has the Donizetti Theatre as its city reference point is prose. It should be noted that in 1953, alongside the Theatre of New Musical Features, the Teatro delle Novità di Prosa (Theatre of New Prose), directed by Enzo Ferrieri. The administration’s policy in this field (the search for popular audiences, concessions to the working classes, invitations to the student population) confirmed its validity; indeed, season tickets increased every year, the number of encore performances grew, and the “demand for theatre” rose. Collateral events (meetings with actors, critical analysis of texts, etc.) were often combined with the performances in the Theatre and in schools and were accompanied by publications (yearbooks for prose seasons – also known as “Quaderni dello spettacolo” (“Notebooks of the show”) – and Single Publications for the opera and the Donizetti Festival). In terms of the number of theatre subscribers and the number of encore performances, the Donizetti was one of the most active Italian theatres as far as prose was concerned. The initiative called “Altri Percorsi” (Other Performances), which started during the 1980-1981 season and proposed alternative performances to those consolidated in the official season, was interesting, especially for a type of audience curious about an experimental way of doing theatre. << Previous << Next >> >>
In this new atmosphere, the Donizetti took on a continuous technical structure and could better plan its activities. Missiroli was thus able to launch a notable initiative, the Teatro delle Novità, (The Theatre of New Features) that is, the presentation – on a national scale and of an experimental nature – of unpublished works to make known and support new Italian musical energies. The prelude to this glorious adventure (which lasted from 1937 to 1973) was the 1935 opera season, in which, alongside repertoire works, Paolo e Virginia, was performed, an absolute new feature composed by Gianandrea Gavazzeni, who would shortly afterwards begin a brilliant career as a conductor and collaborate with his friend Missiroli on the renewal of the Donizetti. The Teatro delle Novità had great resonance throughout the country, with echoes abroad as well, and served to affirm not only new composers, singers, set designers and directors, inviting them to work in an experimental manner on a stage, but also that of the Donizetti, which became a veritable laboratory of the performing arts. Experimental compositions in music, texts, scripts, and costumes were staged. Some shows were highly successful such as Ferrovia sopraelevata (1955) the first opera composed by Luciano Chailly on a text by Dino Buzzati; La panchina (1956) with a text by Italo Calvino and music by Sergio Liberovici. Meanwhile, there was the 1940-1945 war. The years were extremely dramatic, but even in this period, the shows performed a necessary cultural function. Reduced opera seasons were held with the presence of the orchestra and singers from La Scala, which had been displaced by the war. The post-war period marked a reawakening in the intellectual, social, and economic life of the city, with a resurgent interest in all forms of entertainment. In 1948 some Donizetti publications came to light, and it can be said that in that year, largely thanks to Bindo Missiroli, the Donizetti Renaissance took root, that is, the phenomenon that would lead to the recovery, re-proposal, and knowledge of the works of the musician from Bergamo that had been performed little or had disappeared from the stage. Missiroli was also credited with the presence of the most celebrated musicians and famous performers, such as the soprano Maria Callas in the 1954 première of Lucia di Lammermoor (the artist had already been to the Donizetti in 1951). The Prose Theatre, which had been absent from the Donizetti since the 1930s, was re-established and Armand Salacrou’s Le notti dell’Ira was staged. This was the first of a long series of performances by the Piccolo Theatre of Milan directed by Giorgio Strehler. In 1952 two concerts officially consecrated jazz as a genre worthy of being heard at the Donizetti Theatre as much as classical music or opera. The first was scheduled for 6th February with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra. The more snobbish audience did not understand the new proposal and left the hall, but those who decided to stay went wild with American-style applause and whistles that
In every season (even during the First World War) the proposal of operas and the presence of prose theatre continued. In 1917, the opera Liacle by musician and fellow-citizen Edoardo Berlendis was performed for the first time, one of the most important opera events of the 1900s at the Donizetti. As far as prose is concerned, the names of Flavio Andò, Emma and Irma Gramatica, Edoardo Ferravilla, Angelo Musco, Gualtiero Tumiati, Maria Melato, Tina Di Lorenzo, Ruggero Ruggeri and Ermete Novelli, among others, can be mentioned.In the 1920s the Italian political climate took a downturn with the rise to power of Mussolini and Fascism, while in Bergamo the old town centre, where the age-old shacks of the Fabbrica della Fiera stood, was demolished, and replaced, by the architect Piacentini, with the complex of new buildings that still make up the town centre.The 1930s marked important events in the life of the Theatre. In 1931, the Municipality of Bergamo appointed Bindo Missiroli, a former music critic, as its director, who organised the opera seasons. This was a moment of great importance. From then on, the theatre ceased to be managed by private interests and was taken over directly by a special Civic Commission, which in its new management gave priority to the interests of the community. << Previous << Next >> >>
It was in Donizetti’s name that a decisive turning point in the life of the Theatre occurred. In 1897, to mark the centenary of the Composer’s birth, the Riccardi Theatre was renamed the Gaetano Donizetti Theatre. To mark the occasion, the façade was completely rebuilt by the architect Pietro Via. Outside the theatre, a monument dedicated to Donizetti by sculptor Francesco Jerace was inaugurated. Except for a few details, the Theatre had the appearance we know today. Alongside the traditional performances, the Donizetti Theatre also hosted a new type of show, the cinematograph. These were some primitive films shot by the Lumière brothers’ operators, brought to the theatre by the entrepreneur Terzi in 1899: an extremely rare event at a time when cinema shows were shown in fairground shacks or concert cafés. It was probably a first, as there is no record of the cinema having been hosted in a theatre before then. << Previous << Next >> >>
Impatience with Austrian rule was growing; among the provinces of Upper Italy, Bergamo was the most determined to speak out against the Empire. The actual revolt broke out in March 1848. For reasons of political turmoil and then due to a cholera epidemic, the Riccardi was closed during the 1848 and 1849 Fair seasons, and for a certain period was used as a military hospital. In the meantime, the illusions of freedom fell one by one; and after a victorious campaign, the patriotic forces disintegrated, and the Austrians regained the upper hand. Years without history followed, except for the fire that destroyed part of the stage one night in 1850, and the improvements made in 1856 Then, finally, in 1859 Bergamo was freed once and for all from foreign rule. On 12th August of that year, a concert was held at the Riccardi for the arrival of King Vittorio Emanuele II in Bergamo. There was a new atmosphere about the city, a feeling of progress and well-being, as well as that of rediscovered freedom. Gas lighting arrived at the theatre in 1868, replacing oil lighting. In 1869, interior restoration work was carried out. The Theatre hall was enriched with decorations by the painter Francesco Domenghini, an artist of genius and a great expert in painting techniques, who frescoed the ceiling with figures praising the triumph of the art of music, surrounded by allegorical figures and angels in the frame. On the proscenium boxes the artist painted dancing putti and on the three rows of boxes festoons intertwined with ribbons. In the centre of the archway was a clock supported by maidens. Despite this, the period was not very bright for Riccardi, the lack of municipal subsidies caused the level of performances to drop and discouraged the public. A sign of recovery came when the management of the Theatre was entrusted to an enterprising master builder, Luigi Dolci and, from 1879, to Giovannina Lucca, widow of an important music publisher and direct rival of Ricordi. In 1895 the theatre passed to an association of citizens. << Previous << Next >> >>
The theatre was extremely popular and appreciated. In the meantime, however, political conditions were changing in Bergamo, as in all northern Italy. Chased away by the reaction of Austria, Prussia and Russia to Napoleonic domination, the French troops left the city in 1814 and the Austrian troops took their place. This marked the beginning of Austrian rule, which lasted 45 years. Opera In 1830, the administration of the Theatre passed to the entrepreneur Bartolomeo Merelli, who had studied music with Donizetti. It was Merelli who hosted Vincenzo Bellini in 1830 with La straniera and in 1831 with Norma, supervising the staging himself. It was Merelli’s merit again if Gaetano Donizetti’s operas were performed in Bergamo in large numbers from 1837 onwards, helping to establish the fortunes of the composer from Bergamo. In 1840 Bergamo paid tribute Donizetti for the first time in a public event (which would also be the last, while he was alive). Donizetti was present in the theatre for the performance of his operaL'esule di Roma, performed by famous singers such as Domenico Donzelli, Eugenia Tadolini and Ignazio Marini. Chases of the Maestro’s carriage are said to have taken place on that occasion. Donizetti returned to Bergamo for good in 1847 and died there the following year (8th April 1848). The musical taste of the time was very demanding, several philharmonic societies were founded in the city, the first city band was created, and new theatres opened. Great singers made a name for themselves at the Riccardi. An event of the period was the debut of Giuseppe Verdi, who was present in the theatre, withErnani (1844). (1844). The outcome of the performance, directed by Verdi himself, was positive. Verdi returned to the Riccardi to oversee the staging of Rigoletto in 1854, for its “premiere” in Lombardy. Performances Not only musical works were performed at the Riccardi Theatre. There were ballets, comedies and shows of various kinds. Among the prose actors on the Riccardi stage were the greatest Italian performers of the time, such as Giuseppe Salvini, Francesco Augusto Bon, Luigi Romagnoli, all heads of families of great theatrical performers, and then Romualdo Mascherpa, Giuseppe Moncalvo, Maddalena Pelzet, Adelaide Ristori, Gustavo Modena. There were also vaudevilles (ancestors of the operetta) and scientific marvels such as the Agioscope and the Miriafanorama, systems of luminous projections that in a certain sense anticipated the cinematograph in 1846. << Previous << Next >> >>