Real San Carlo Theater
The Real Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest opera house in Europe
The San Carlo Theater in Naples was built in 1737 at the behest of King Charles III of Bourbon, and was inaugurated 41 years before the Scala of Milan and 55 years before the Fenice of Venice, which is why it is today the oldest theater in operates in Europe and among the largest in Italy.
King Charles III wanted to enhance the city with a theater that actually represented royal power and entrusted the project to the architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano, Spanish Colonel Brigadier stationed in Naples, and to Angelo Carasale, former director of San Bartolomeo. The theater was built in just eight months, at a total cost of 75 thousand ducats.
The San Carlo Theater is included today by Unesco among the monuments considered World Heritage.
The great composers and conductors
Since its inception, the San Carlo Theater has been at the heart of opera and classical ballet in Italy and Europe, capable of attracting illustrious personalities of international renown, including Paganini, Bellini, Bach, Handel, Mozart.
It is in this theater that the Neapolitan School was born, the spearhead of the European musical world, whose main teachers were Domenico Cimarosa and Giovanni Paisiello, who conducted the San Carlo Orchestra.
Among the famous conductors and musicians who performed in this lyric theater, artists of the caliber of Gioachino Rossini, Gateano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi, who composed many works for San Carlo.
The classical ballet
In 1812 the oldest dance school in Italy was born at the San Carlo Theater. Among the great dancers who trod his stage: Amelia Brugnoli, Fanny Cerrito, Fanny Elssler, Margot Fonteyn, Carla Fracci, Ekaterina Maximova, Rudolf Nureyev, Vladimir Vassiliev and, in recent times, Roberto Bolle, Ambra Vallo, Eleonora Abbagnato.
The structure of the San Carlo Theater
The splendid San Carlo Theater boasts the first horseshoe plan, a model of the classic Italian theater. Since then, the following theaters of Italy and Europe were built on this model, as the court theater of the Royal Palace of Caserta inspired other famous Italian theaters such as the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
The dominant colors inside the room are fire red and gold. On the royal stage, one of the most beautiful and sumptuous in Europe, there is the Savoy coat of arms wanted by the Savoy after the unification of Italy, replacing the pre-existing coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which, instead, was restored under the arch of proscenium.
On the ceiling there is a large canvas measuring 500 square meters, made by Antonio, Giovanni and Giuseppe Cammarano, which depicts Apollo presenting the greatest poets in the world to Minerva which depicts a scene in which Apollo points to Athena (the “Sun “) The arts. Among the figures there are also that of Dante, Beatrice, Virgil and Homer.
Information on the San Carlo Theater
Guided tour times
Guided visits from Monday to Sunday at the following times: 10.30; 11:30; 12:30; 14:30; 15:30; 16:30
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9.00 to 19.00
Sunday from 9.00 to 15.00
in August it is closed
Guided tour ticket price
only San Carlo Theater: full € 9 | reduced € 7 | schools / under 10 € 4
Memus only: full € 6 | reduced € 5 | schools / under 10 € 4
Via San Carlo, 98F – 80132 Naples
How to get
Metro Line 1, Toledo station, walk via Toledo to Piazza del Plebiscito and reach Piazza Trieste and Trento
Metro Line 1, Municipio station, take via Vittorio Emanuele III to Maschio Angioino, turn onto via San Carlo and reach the Theater.
R2, C25, San Carlo stop – Galleria Umberto I
Tel: 081 7972331 –421
Official site of the San Carlo Theater
E-Mail: Biglietteria@teatrosancarlo.it (ticket office) | Promozionepubblico@teatrosancarlo.it (guided tours office)