A Reconstruction of the Teatro San Cassiano in Venice Friday, 26 July, 2019
In September 2018 Dr Paul Atkin commissioned HBS Director Jon Greenfield to produce a reconstruction design for a new opera house in Venice. Dr Atkin’s passion is to recreate the first ever paying opera house, which was built by the Tron family in the San Polo district in 1637. Preceded only by private festival productions that were funded by wealthy patrons to impress selected audiences the Teatro San Cassiano, by contrast, was the very first place where the popular appeal of opera was tested before a paying public.
A small house, with a tiny orchestra and cast, it was the first to use the now familiar auditorium form comprising multiple layers of boxes. Teatro San Cassiano had innovative, breath-taking perspective scenery, fast, mechanical scene changes and visual effects. Quintessentially Baroque, Teatro San Cassiano captures an intersection of the intimate and spectacular, accompanied by the enduring musical narratives of Cavalli, Monteverdi and others. Its popularity overwhelmed seventeenth century Venice, inspired many copies and established opera as the new, most exciting art form.
From 13th to 16th June 2019 Dr Atkin hosted an international conference at Venice’s Conservatorio di Musica at which the concept reconstruction designs were scrutinised by musicologists, specialist professionals and the Venetian public. Jon Greenfield’s reconstruction expertise draws on his architectural work at the Globe Theatre from 1986, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and Shakespeare North projects. Teatro San Cassiano designs were developed in close collaboration with Dr Atkin and Dr Patuzzi and a team of researchers who reviewed the documentary evidence in the Venice archives.
Announced to the international press at the Venice conference, the project has received coverage in the Corriere della Sera, Die Welt and the London Times. A phase of major fundraising has now started.