via Mazzini, 12 - San Felice sul Panaro - MO - 41038
Timetable:Visits only by appointement
The documentation, gathered by Gulinelli in his volume on the San Felice sul Panaro Theatres, indicates that an amateur company worked in the town from the early XVII century. During the course of a Town Council meeting on March 7th, 1633, the town administrator was ordered to pay Giacomo Malvasi and the other workers for the scenery prepared for the recently completed Carnival, as it was 'ancient custom' that the Town made its contribution in this regard. A room for plays was also set aside for the youth of San Felice in the so-called Community house. The original nucleus of this house dates to the XIV century and was the entrance vault to the Castle with the drawbridge. In 1486 it was enlarged to lodge the guard room, the prison and, upstairs, the Town Council Hall. In 1693, thanks to further additions in the southern area, a school was made and another hall was created on the upper floor. After 1732 this building was no longer used by the Town Council and it became a true and proper theatre, fit with box seats and run by prior Giuseppe Campi under perpetual lease. The project came to a standstill during the war of succession between the French-Spanish and the German, as the territory was invaded by the opposing parties. Work was taken up again only in 1755 and appears to have been completed four years later. For more than a century this theatre was managed by the Campi family. After the unification of Italy the theatre came under the control of the City Administration which, in 1882, started to renovate the facility, which had become weak with age and wear. We do not know the exact extent of these works nor the status of all the facilities. It appear that they remained operative for some time, as the Modenese painter Luigi Morsiani was paid 400 lira in 1891 for some canvas scenery: a woods, a noble bedroom, a dance hall, a square, a garden, a marina; scenes which were subsequently mounted by the stagehands in the Storchi Theatre of Modena. However, the operations were obviously inadequate and the theatre, including the building that housed it, were deemed excessively decadent and were demolished in 1903. It is only thanks to the survey performed by Engineer Ettore Tosatti before the building was demolished that we can reconstruct the ancient building. In 1905, Author Pratt, one of the most important Emilian exponents of modernistic renovation, was assigned the project to reconstruct the current Municipal Theater, inaugurated in 1907. Thanks to historical photographs preserved in the Museo Civico di Modena (Pratt Album) we know the original appearance of this theater which was rightly defined: singular, innovative and streamlined. The auditorium had a particular elliptical structure with a row of boxes with narrow cast-iron columns and elliptical vaulted arches. Then there was a second row with only three central boxes closed in a sort of loggia with Art Noveau decorations, symmetrically flanked by simple balconies with iron railings. Finally, the third level had a central gallery of limited proportions. The agricultural bourgeoisie of San Felice most likely deemed this layout too modern and inadequate for their needs. Therefore, a few years later, in 1923-24 it was completely overhauled on the basis of a project by Emilio Giorgi (also author of the theater in Finale Emilia) who proposed a more traditional setting-as we see it today-with a first level gallery, two rows of boxes and a final gallery that preserved the elliptical profile. The entrance atrium was also modified, maintaining only the lovely balcony at the central boxes and eliminating the two short ramps leading to the first order boxes .Therefore, of Prati's work, today only the lovely vault decorated with Art Noveau floral motifs and a few other details, such as the central chandelier, remain.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: from the exit Modena Nord, follow the signs to Mirandola, the SS 12 Abetone / Brenner, called Canaletto. Reached Medolla take the S.S. Correct up to 468 of San Felice.
By train: from Bologna train station to take train to Bologna / Verona.