Saturday, April 21, 2012

Il Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera di Firenze

One afternoon, last December, Simone and I were leaving Cascine after spending a couple hours walking around the park.  Normally, we would enter and exit the park by Via della Cascine, but on this particular day, we exited the park toward Viale Fratelli Rosselli.  As we turned off of Viale degli Olmi to Viale dei Visarno, we laid our eyes on a very large modern structure.

"THAT is an UGLY building!" exclaimed Simone.  I agreed.  Now, I know some folks love modern architecture, and I do believe it does have it's place in this world, but for the most part, Simone and I do not particularly enjoy it.  Especially in an old city such as Florence.  

"What IS it?" I wondered aloud.  

Later that day, Simone walked into the living room and said, "a new opera house!"  He had done an internet search and discovered that the metallic structure was in fact the Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera di Firenze.

"We should go!" Simone added, mentioning a scheduled tour that was open to the public the next morning and that evening there would be a symphonic concert.

The next day, we drove out to the theater and joined several hundred people (I didn't count, but there was a LOT of people there) to take a tour of the theater.  We walked into the lobby and stood in a "line" (I use quotes, because it was more like a mass of people - not a line).

The lobby of the new opera house in Florence
The lobby was quite light and airy feeling.  The center part was spherical that led into the main theater and there were a lot of angles and curves in the light colored walls and ceiling.  The main doors were in a wall of windows, which helped light the area.

Moving from the lobby area into the main house you seem to go from a "colder" feeling space (white, light, sparsely decorated) into a much "warmer" area.  The main theater is filled with a variety of textures and warm colors.

Wood and bronze colors line the walls.  They used a special sort of material and draped the walls with it.  From what they said, the material doesn't absorb or deflect the sound, but rather lets it pass through.

The seats are comfortable and covered in a light gray fabric.  The backs and floor of the main house is comprised of a light color wood that helps to offset the darker walls and ceiling.

The ceiling is a dark gray with light "strips" pointing toward the stage.  There are two upper levels of seating with similar decor.

We took our seats and the lead architect engineer, acoustic engineer, and several other engineers and designers took the stage for a presentation on how the theater was built, what sort of problems they encountered, etc.

Engineers, architects and designers of the new theater

I'm sure it was an interesting presentation, but considering that my Italian language skills are not near fluent, I only understood a small part of it.  Simone explained some parts of it later to me, and it was interesting to hear about the details of the building.

After the talk, everyone headed outdoors and up the stairs to the outdoor amphitheater.

Yes, I said that right - they have an outdoor amphitheater.  On top of the building.  Amazing.

Although it looks to be made of marble, it's actually made of a special sort of ceramic that is extremely lightweight.  The outdoor space was constructed to be an outdoor venue for concerts and plays.

The best part, in my opinion, though, was the view of Florence from the top.

Ah, I do love this city!

That night, we returned to the theater.  I wish I had gotten some pictures of the building at night, because it's really neat to see all lit up.  The building is lit up behind the metal exterior, causing a really interesting lighting effect that makes it seem like it's made up of a bunch of rectangles of light.  The walk up through the piazza was really nice.  Two days prior, there had been the gala opening that was attended by famous politicians and other famous people, such as Sophia Loren.  They had lights directed across the pathway in green, white and red - the tricolore of the Italian flag.  It was absolutely beautiful.

The concert itself was magnificent.  We saw Claudio Abbado conduct the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentio and the Orchestra Mozart of Bologna.  They performed Johannes Brahms Schicksalslied op. 54, and Gustav Mahler Sinfonia n.9.  The music was incredible and after the last note was played, the entire audience lept to their feet and cries of "bravissimi!" echoed throughout the crowd while they applauded.  Signor Abbado made five curtain calls, but the crowd continued applauding.  We left 15 minutes after the concert and there was still a large crowd continuing to applaud!

If you are a lover of the arts, then I definitely recommend checking out this new theater in Florence.  They intend to keep it open during the day to the public, so if you're in town, take some time to take a look at this amazing building.  And if you can, try to catch a performance, too!

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