Teatro La Fenice – The Rise and Rise of the Phoenix

Teatro La Fenice – Venice’s World Famous Opera House:

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Teatro La Fenice in 1837

First constructed in the late 18th century, the Teatro La Fenice (“The Phoenix”) was so named because for the opera company responsible for its construction there was a sense of having “risen from the ashes” . Fire had destroyed the original Venice opera house and legal disputes forced the opera company to relocate to the present Campo San Fantin venue.

That was in 1792.  Fenice Opera House was struck by disaster again in 1836 when fire destroyed the opera theatre and again in January 1996 when arson caused it to be burned to the ground.

There was no doubt in the mind of city officials about the need to rebuild the opera house.   So the Phoenix rose once again and it was rebuilt as close to the original in appearance as humanly possible.

The architect and construction company obviously did their homework. For, apart from things looking a lot newer than a 200-year old opera house should look, Teatro Fenice is virtually indistinguishable from the original.

The project to rebuild the famed Venice opera house gained international support.  Americans paid for the ceiling, while British donors bought the stellar chandeliers. After five thousand trips down the Grand Canal, the work was complete.

Over the years the theatre has played host to such famed musical names as Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. Rich and poor, highborn and low alike flocked to hear them and the music they created as Italians from all walks of life love their opera.

For those interested in an opera in Venice (www.teatrolafenice.it/), one can enjoy here the leading artists of the day sing and play many of the works of those early masters. La Traviata is performed here in a way that can be heard nowhere else. Be forewarned, though, that (like the original) some seats don’t even have a view of the stage. The acoustics continue to be truly fine.

The Teatro Fenice  is a world class opera house and even for those whose musical tastes run elsewhere, there is still much to see in the building. Daytime tours provide a view of some of the most fascinating aspects of this historic structure.

Walking along these hallowed halls tourists will enjoy seeing the elaborate plaster decorations. The gilding was all carefully recreated to give the walls and ceiling the look they had for nearly two centuries.

Knowledgeable tour guides fill visitors in on the history of the building and its most notable performers. For 45 minutes it becomes very easy to imagine oneself a member of the class that would have been taken on private tours generations earlier.

Audio guides are available in Italian, German, French, Spanish and English. The guided tours are also available in those languages, but a group of at least ten is required. With so many tourists in Venice, it’s a simple matter to gather even strangers to participate. Some tours include a cocktail at the end, served in the Apollinee Halls.

Getting there:
The Fenice can be easily reached by taking waterbus Line 1, which runs on the Grand Canal and has stops at both the train station and Piazzale Roma. Just get off at the nearby stop of Santa Maria del Giglio.

Campo San Fantin, 1965
30124 Venice, Italy

Check here for Opera at other Venice venues.

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