Open Theaters, wonderful initiative in Emilia (Italy)

From December 4 to 8, 2021, the historical theaters of Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia will reveal their arts and secrets, thanks to special guided tours.

The ancient theaters of Emilia open extraordinarily to the public for the Open Theaters initiative, an experiential journey into the heart of 16 historic theaters in the provinces of Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia, under the direction of Visit Emilia, the land of the slow mix where every journey is eclectic and unique between culture, nature and food and wine. “The theater as a place of culture, but also as historical and artistic heritage – underlines Cristiano Casa, President of Visit Emilia-. A unique opportunity for visitors, but also for the inhabitants of the territory of Emilia, to know the theaters from new and unprecedented points of view, discovering stories mostly unknown and entering places normally inaccessible to the public. An opportunity to discover the other wonders of Emilia, such as castles, villages, cities of art and the rich gastronomy”.


The Teatro Regio, in the heart of Parma Italian Capital of Culture 2020 + 2021, is one of the Italian temples of opera, a monument of opera built in neoclassical style since 1821 at the behest of Duchess Maria Luigia of Austria, wife of Napoleon.

On December 4, 5 and 6, 2021, visitors will be able to admire, with a guide, the foyer and the stalls decorated by Magnani and surmounted by the gilded bronze chandelier forged by the Lacarrière workshops of Paris, as well as the exceptional painted curtain and the Sala del Ridotto.

Inside the splendid Pilotta Complex, not to be missed is a visit to the Farnese Theatre, with its unmistakable harmony guarded by the totally wooden structures built in 1618. An extraordinary scenery for visitors who will be able to observe it closely, imagining the splendor of the court of the Farnese Dukes. The theater adheres to the initiative from December 4 to 8, every day, and the ticket will allow you to visit the entire Monumental Complex of the Pilotta.

In the land that gave birth to Maestro Giuseppe Verdi, a visit to the Giuseppe Verdi Theater in the fortress of Busseto (PR), his city of origin, is a must. Crossing the portico and climbing the grand staircase, you will be greeted by decorations by Giuseppe Baisi and Alessandro Malpeli and by Gioacchino Levi’s medallions depicting Comedy, Tragedy, Melodrama and Romantic Drama. It can be visited from December 4 to 8, every day.


Stendhal called it, not by chance, the most beautiful theater in Italy. The Municipal Theater of Piacenza is a wonder for the eyes: elegant and refined, with its avant-garde structure, it was the first, in 1895, to be entirely illuminated by electric lamps. Its three-quarter ellipse-shaped hall was an innovation in the nineteenth century, thanks to the work of Lotario Tomba, who revolutionized the principles of canonical European theater architecture. Over time, the theater was enriched by the works of Alessandro Sanquirico and his students. The Secondino di scena by Domenico Menozzi, restored in 2007, is very beautiful. It can be visited only on December 8th.

In an alley between via Castello and via Taverna di Piacenza you can see the Teatro San Matteo, which reveals in its architecture the sacred origins of a protoromanic temple. It became a movie theater between the two wars and fell into ruin, was restored in the 80s of last century and now has an audience of 200 seats. Visits are on December 4, 5 and 8.

You can admire wonderful frescoes in the Sala dei Teatini, once the church of San Vincenzo, which belonged to the Order of Teatini. Frescoes that for years were inaccessible and then recovered as the wooden works and the facade thanks to a great work of restoration. Today it is a modern auditorium, in the vanguard for technical and acoustic solutions, and it has been chosen as rehearsal room for the Youth Orchestra “Luigi Cherubini” directed by Maestro Riccardo Muti, whose seat is in Piacenza. To be visited on December 5 and 8.

Leaving Piacenza and reaching Pontenure, we discover the little bomboniera theater with a stage in masonry and floral decorations of the Serra di Parco Raggio, next to the residence called “Villa Fortunata”, which was built by Armando Raggio, between 1882 and 1885. Spectacular is the curvilinear molding that separates the two areas of coverage: in iron the stalls, in tiles the stage. The theater is open on December 5.

In Castel San Giovanni there is another jewel: the Verdi Theater with its beautiful foyer with the ancient cross vaults and the hall adapted to the appearance of the original church. It was inaugurated in 1823 and saw the debut in 1841 of Anna Maria “Marietta” Baderna, a pearl of dance famous throughout the world. It can be visited on December 7.

Named in the early 1900s after the legendary actress who was only 10 years old when she first stepped on stage, the Eleonora Duse Theater in Cortemaggiore traces its roots back to 1826, when Maria Luigia of Austria allowed work to begin on the transformation of the convent. The small horseshoe-shaped auditorium is dominated by two tiers of boxes and a hall decorated in Renaissance style with flowers and garlands. It is open for tours on December 5.

Unique and probably one of the smallest theaters in the world, the small theater of Vigoleno Castle was created for Princess Maria Ruspoli Gramont (owner of the castle between 1922 and 1934) by the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovlef who decorated the walls of the hall with bright colors and exotic designs representing animals, masks, dancing figures with symbolic connotations, musicians and ladies in eighteenth-century dresses, including the princess herself and a thick vegetation with vines. At the center of the scene a stylized representation of the medieval village leads back to the magic realism of Gino Severini. It can be visited on December 4, 5 and 8.


Reggio Emilia is one of the cities in which the culture of theater is strongly rooted. In the city of the Tricolour, since the second half of the seventeenth century, every aristocratic palace had a space used for performances. The Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious theaters in the Emilia area: inaugurated in 1857, with its portico dominated by a cornice decorated with 14 statues, it has a grandiose stage, on which a fine Montesanti organ from 1815 is installed, and a large backstage area. In the hall, which has an elliptical shape, white and gold prevail, there are four orders with 106 boxes, the royal box and a loggia. The third curtain, “Siderea”, was made by the artist Omar Galliani, in 1991. Visits are held on December 4 and 5.

In Correggio it is nice to visit the Asioli Theater, built in the place where Niccolò Postumo had his palace erected at the end of the 15th century. It was rebuilt several times, but it still preserves the original design of the hall, inaugurated in 1852 with a horseshoe plan, 60 boxes arranged in three orders, a gallery and a royal box. Guided tours are possible on December 5.

In Guastalla, on the other hand, not to be missed is a visit to the Ruggero Ruggeri Theater, one of the ten oldest in Italy. It was built in 1671 on a project by Antonio Vasconi by order of Ferrante III, Duke of Guastalla. Despite the restoration works carried out over the centuries, the current appearance maintains the horseshoe plan and the original layout of the facade. It is possible to experience its fascinating history on December 8.

Novellara hosts the Franco Tagliavini Theater, which reproduces in miniature the structure of the Municipal Theater of Reggio Emilia with a horseshoe plan, three tiers of boxes with a gallery and a large stage surmounted by a clock. It was named after the city’s tenor only in 2012, but its roots go back to the performance hall that existed in the Gonzaga fortress since the 16th century. Then in the 1800s, Antonio Tegani was responsible for the construction of the theater as it can be seen now, with the splendid decorations by Cesare Cervi. It can be visited on December 5.

With a name that recalls the ancient place-name of Rubiera, the Herberia Theater of Rubiera opened its curtain in 1926, showing a late Liberty structure designed by Antonio Panizzi and Italo Costa. Also very active as a cinema, it was closed and then reopened, after restoration, at the end of the 1980s. Visits are possible on December 4.

The Danilo Donati Social Theater in Luzzara also has a special history. Started in 1813, it was inaugurated in 1852 thanks to the Società teatrale Luzzarese (Luzzara’s theatrical society), even though a small court theater already existed in the ancient Gonzaga palace and another one was built in the rooms later occupied by the art school. The theater could hold up to 400 people, with 47 boxes divided into three orders. The curtain, now missing, represented the Fair of Luzzara with the Gonzaga Princes and was painted by Casali. The building underwent a radical restoration in 1919 and the plan was modified in a semicircular form. In 2006, restoration work was carried out and in 2013 the first reopening thanks to the idea of recovery of Fondazione Un Paese and the work of a passionate group of volunteers that led to the reopening of the theater at the end of 2018, with an agility of 99 seats. The theater was named after Danilo Donati, costume designer, set designer, multifaceted artist, native of Luzarese and Oscar winner. Visits on December 4 and 5.

All information on individual opening dates, times, costs, are on the site

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