Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini is an opera house in Catania, named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. The theater is located in the square with the same name, about 350 meters from the Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata.
The construction of a public theater in Catania was proposed right after the earthquake of the Val di Noto of 1693, which destroyed most of the cities in the area, but a foundation stone was laid only in 1812, over 100 years after the terrible event.
In 1870, the architect Andrea Scala was given the task of finding a suitable site to build a new theater, and after examining the various options it was decided for the Piazza Cutelli area. Despite the financial uncertainties, the project was approved, and Scala, with the assistance of the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, carried out the works.
In 1880, the company financing the project ended up in liquidation, and was replaced by the Municipality, which decided to make some modifications to the structure of the theater. In 1887, the building was completed, but the inauguration took place only on May 31, 1890, with Norma, an opera by Vincenzo Bellini.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The Neo-Baroque facade of the theater is inspired by the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, the work of Jacopo Sansovino.
The hall of the theater, with four tiers of boxes, is of great decorative richness, being one of the most beautiful halls built in the 19th century in Italy. The ceiling, which depicts scenes from four of Bellini’s most well-known operas, was frescoed by the painter Ernesto Bellandi, and the historical curtain, illustrating the Victory of the Catanese over the Libyans, was decorated by the painter Giuseppe Sciuti.
In the foyer of the theater, very large and elegant, decorated with marbles and stuccos, we can find the bronze statue of Vincenzo Bellini by Salvo Giordano.
HOW TO GET THERE
The theater is located about 1 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 102, about 170 meters away, on the bus Lines 429, 431N, 439, 449, 530, 534, 536, 556, 628D, 925, 927 and 932.