Teatro Regio, Turin’s opera house, turns 40 this week…well version 2.0 is turning 40. What’s left aesthetically from the legendary Teatro Regio from 1740 is only to be found on the building’s outer facade. What’s on the inside can best be described as one hell of a Seventies flashback/crimson assault on the eyes. A bit of a bizarre setting to see history’s most iconic operatic performances from Verdi to Vivaldi.
A fire in 1936 destroyed the interiors of the Regio and its redesign only began in the Swingin’ Sixties, hence the influence. This weekend I took a guided tour of the Regio on open day and learned a whole bunch of eccentric little details about the theatre that I had not observed a few months back when I’d come to see Andrea Chenier (see a shot from the performance below).
The man responsible for the red velvet cupcake theatre was a Torinese architect by the name of Carlo Mollino. He was known for his eccentric flair for architecture, famously saying: “everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.” I don’t know if I would call Regio “fantastic,” but it sure is different.
You can best note the Seventies swivel chairs in my box (below) and the purple ceiling, a colour that is actually unlucky for the theatre…hmmm great idea Carlo. There’s also an icicle-style chandelier that juts out around the ceiling, which I would not describe as tasteful. I do feel a tad bad for trashing on an opera house, especially when it’s a hot bed for the arts – but the set of three 20-30 minute intermissions during Andrea Chenier combined with the fact that the star tenor Marcelo Alvarez (the whole purpose of my going to see the show) was replaced for that performance by his understudy (ugghhhhh) makes me feel just a little more justified.
All in good fun though… I’m not the only one thinking these things about Regio, I’ve seen the employees rag on the place too, it’s become this loveable eyesore for them and the people of Turin. The theatre even hosted a Seventies themed dance party in the foyer on Saturday night, what other opera house can get away with blaring Donna Summer down the halls? That calls for some RESPECT.
Happy Birthday Teatro Regio!