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The Neapolitan opera temple – The Royal Theater of San Carlo

The Royal Theater of San Carlo

Just wondering why abroad no one knows about the Real Teatro San Carlo but everyone knows about La Scala in Milan.

Yet the Teatro San Carlo in Napoli is 41 years older than La Scala and very prestigious. Everywhere only the Lombardo theater is advertised. That’s why we want to reiterate the story and the facts.

The Real Teatro di San Carlo is the oldest opera house in the world. It has survived wars, fires and the Neapolitan revolution. It is the oldest continuously operating venue for opera in the world. Opened in 1737, 41 years before the Scala in Milan and 55 years before the Fenice in Venice, it boasts the first horseshoe plan, a model of the classic Italian theater. Since then, the following theaters in Italy and Europe were built on this model.The project was curated by the architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano who in about eight months managed to build the magnificent 1379-seat theater. The prestige of the San Carlo immediately grew to the point of attracting several illustrious personalities of international fame. Over the years it has undergone numerous changes and reconstructions and played an important role in the history of the city and of the Neapolitan Republic of 1799.

In that period the San Carlo took the name of the National Theater of San Carlo. When the Republic fell, it returned to its previous name. It was directed, among others, by Giacomo Rossini first and then by Gaetano Donizetti. It has hosted works by the greatest musicians. From the above to Giuseppe Verdi and Niccolò ‘Paganini, Vincenzo Bellini and Saverio Mercadante.

During the years, among the directors on stage there have been Arturo Toscanini, Igor ‘Fëdorovič Stravinskij, Leonard Bernstein, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Ferenc Fricsay, Hermann Scherchen, André Cluytens, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Ferruccio Busoni, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sergiu , Herbert von Karajan, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Karl Böhm, Zubin Mehta, Fabio luisi, Daniel Oren and Vincenzo Bellezza and many others. Fernando De Lucia, Beniamino Gigli, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, Tito Schipa, Enrico Caruso, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Alfredo Kraus, Mario Del Monaco, Franco Corelli and Alfredo Vernetti; the sopranos Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Magda Olivero have been among those who sung at San Carlo. visit

Photo©Alberto Pagliarulo

The Real Teatro di San Carlo is located in the heart of the city of Napoli, surrounded by the main monuments and places of major tourist attraction. The San Carlo Theater is today included by UNESCO among the monuments considered a World Heritage Site.