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In the second half of the 18th century European architecture embraced the example set by
Palladio, with the orderliness of 16th century buildings replacing
the baroque style. The design of the theatre’s façade reflected this trend.
The two external frontages have at the bottom part the same ashlar-work, a peculiar feature widely utilized in many buildings in the Po river valley. This feature confers
the same importance to the two frontages of the building and visually links them together.
The main entrance facing the Castle and situated in Corso Martiri della Libertà is identified by the loggiato (covered walkway), the only major modifications on this side when compared with the side facing Corso Giovecca.
The two frontages harmoniously blend the building within its architectural environment.


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Until recently the theatre’s atrium acted solely as the entrance to the hall. The space
was redefined during the restorations carried out in the ‘80s to equip the theatre with
features and devices needed to comply with the new safety standards for public places. The entrance to the theatre faces corso Martiri della Libertà. In order to give more depth to the hall, large crystal doors were installed along with new flooring. The walls were enriched
with applications of stucco, and in the entrance to the hall two places were set aside for the
presentation of literature and merchandise related to the programmed
activities. Among the important renovations of the ‘80s was the installation of a new ticket-office, enlarged and with updated technology, situated in separate rooms accessible from Corso Giovecca and Rotonda Foschini.



The construction of the Teatro Comunale of Ferrara played an important role in the evolution of the concept of “teatro all’italiana”.
Among the structural elements giving the theatre its harmonious look are the elliptical profile of the cavea; the line of the 5 tiers of boxes rising to the vaulted ceiling; the removal of the stage-boxes; and the addition of an architectural proscenium linking the hall to the


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The area occupied by the stalls, 254 seats divided by aisles into eight sections, has a very different function today compared with that of the past. During the first years of activities the staging of performances was just one of the many functions of the theatre. No less important was its role as a venue for dances, meetings and entertainment.
A large part of the area of the stalls was originally occupied by movable furniture. Meanwhile, the area from close to the stage out to the centre of the stalls was reserved for the orchestra.
A balustrade was situated along the perimeter of the hall, behind which were places where the public could stand. Soon after the inauguration of the theatre the balustrade was removed and a few benches inserted. It was only in the 20th century that the stalls became similar to that of today’s. In 1928 the pit for the orchestra was completed, and the inclination of the stage was increased to give the audience
a better view. Recent works include the wood flooring (1987); the increasing of the inclination of the stalls relative to the level of the stage, and the repositioning of the seats (1995); and the installation of a movable platform for the setting up of the orchestra pit (1996). In 2001 an air-conditioning system was put in place.


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The boxes play an important role in a public theatre, resolving the problems related to audience capacity, and guaranteeing through their sale and rental the income necessary for both the construction and the administration of the theatre itself. This economic factor has been crucial for the Teatro Comunale since its foundation. The theatre features five tiers of boxes aligned continously, and separated from one another by partition walls.
Foschini oriented the boxes to assure the best possible visibility and sound quality, and called for the use of slim brick walls to obtain an acoustic output very similar to that offered by wood. A similar degree of attention was given to the boxes decoration, completed in stucco and relief, and to the quality of paint to be spread over the internal and external sides of the boxes in order to reflect sounds in the best way. The ceiling and its curve were completed using a very light structure.


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The decorations of the cavea, entrusted to Serafino Barozzi in 1791, were renovated during
the first half of the 19th century when the first restoration works took place. The initial work was completed in a two year period
(1825-26), and involved the figure painter Angelo Monticelli from Milan. The most important work was carried out following this, by Francesco Migliari.After his involvement in the restorations of 1825, Migliari created in 1833 a painted curtain whose subject was inspired by Orlando Furioso. Among the works completed during a 3-year period was the
addition of a ceiling rose and a chandelier, giving light from the roof. The decorative framework designed by Migliari for the project has a definite romantic feel. Each tier of boxes has different decorations. Of particular interest is the subject chosen for the decoration of the ceiling: four scenes from the life of Julius Caesar, expressing the patriotism typical of the era. These pictures are surrounded by a broad Renaissance motif. An ornament is located close to the centre of the ceiling, which is dominated by a large fret-worked rose.


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The proscenium

The proscenium arch, designed by Foschini, does not completely
divide the hall and the stage. At the time of its construction the
majority of theatres adopted a proscenium of baroque inspiration
which separated the area for the public from the area intended
for the performances. Such a proscenium was usually a richlydecorated
rectangular frame. In 1825 the proscenium arch was transformed into a more traditional proscenium. The restorations of 1849 brought it back again to its original look

The Stage

Since the time of its construction the stage of the Teatro Comunale
of Ferrara has been considered large and grand. Even now, it still
is of a considerable scale. The stage has been redesigned but the main structures have not changed at all. Foschini himself designed guiding tracks able to make the wings and the “telieri”, (paintings with scenes of different subjects), slide to the centre of the stage. The mechanism controlling the motion of the stage’s wings and ceiling was quite complex, as was the one controlling scenery changes and stage effects. Nowadays the delicate structure is substituted by an electrical system, and the mechanisms for controlling stage lighting and sound are completely automated.


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From the time the theatre was built through until the 20th century, the rooms connected to the theatre hall were considered a prestigious cultural and worldly meeting point, to be used regularly, in addition to the special occasions connected with programmed performances. This part of the theatre complex, originally accessible from the staircase of honour, was completed at the beginning of the 19th century.
In the original project the Ridotto was formed by the Sala Grande (big room) and four large additional halls. The project included a small room for Cardinal Legato. In 1802 the Società del Casino dei Signori Nobili established itself in these rooms and created the first link between the Sala Grande and some of the dressing rooms near to the boxes. In 1822 the Ridotto was directly connected to the piano nobile rooms of the theatre.
It was only in 1845 that the theatre assumed its definitive look, as seen in the décor of the Sala Piccola (little hall), with its vaulted ceiling and the decorated chimney built in the French style, and in the Sala Grande, with its magnificent ceiling painted by Migliari and walls embellished with gildings.
It’s very interesting today to view a vertical section of the Ridotto drawn by Foschini, which shows the Ridotto surrounded by a balustrade balcony connecting with the upper rooms. The lack of traces of this in the theatre as it is now suggests that the project was modified before its construction.
There is evidence however of the original project in the open-work balustrade on the left wall.
At the end of the Main Room was Cardinal Legato’s room. During the last works of restoration it was necessary to demolish part of this section in order to build emergency doors, although it was possible to preserve the terrace over the arch of the Vicolo del Teatro for
public use.



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The dressing rooms
The dressing rooms were restored between 1987 and 1989, and are accessible from Corso Giovecca.
They are able to contain up to 180 people. Situated on three different levels, they can be utilized in different ways. On the 1st floor there are rooms suitable for directors and conductors, and for main role actors and singers.
These rooms are furnished with mirrors and ensuites. Located in the 2nd and 3rd floors are the dressing rooms for orchestra members, corps de ballet, chorus members and extras. Wardrobe, make-up and wig rooms are situated close to the dressing rooms.

The rehearsal rooms
The rehearsal rooms connect directly with the stage and are accessible from Rotonda Foschini.
Even though the rehearsal rooms are a fundamental part of the theatre they have been restored only recently.
They are arranged on three different levels. In the original plans Room 1 was intended to be a rehearsal room for musical groups of different sizes, Room 2 was intended for drama company rehearsals, and Room 3 as a ballet room, and for the warm-ups of guest dancers. Nowadays, these rooms are utilised as exhibition spaces, and as rooms for conferencesand workshops. Room 1 in particular, with its special wooden floor, is often utilized as a dance room during workshops.

The archive
Home to the Centro di documentazione (documentation centre), the
archive is equipped with the most up-to-date multimedia facilities.
Here is assembled all the printed material, audio and video records regarding the activities undertaken by the theatre since October 1964.
The archive also hosts the photographic catalogue of the Teatro Comunale of Ferrara, with images taken since the mid-70’s.
After restoration it was opened to the public during the season 2005/2006 and located partly in the rooms along the staircase of honour leading to the Ridotto, and partly in the fourth level of boxes
facing Rotonda Foschini. Intended for academies and meeting venues at the time of their construction, the rooms were used as offices after the theatre’s reopening to the public in 1964.