Teatro Farnese - Parma

The venues

Teatro Farnese

Situated on the ground floor of Palazzo della Pilotta, Teatro Farnese occupies an entire hall which was originally the Armoury Hall. It was re-adapted and transformed into a theatre between 1617 and 1618, by architect Giovan Battista Aleotti, called the Argenta after his hometown in the province of Ferrara. The theatre was built in a short time, using light materials such as wood and painted stuccoes. The theatre was commissioned by Ranuccio I, duke of Parma and Piacenza between 1593 to 1622, to celebrate the Grand-duke of Tuscany Cosimo II de Medici, who had scheduled a visit to Parma whilst on his way to Milan. Ranuccio wanted to reinforce the bond with the Medici family by setting up a new marriage agreement between the two families. Unfortunately, the Grand-duke of Tuscany'journey was cancelled due to poor health, and so the inauguration of the theatre - completed in 1619 - took place much later in 1628, on occasion of the wedding between Margherita de' Medici and duke Odoardo. The grand opening featured an allegorical-mythological play entitled "Mercury and Mars" (written by Claudio Achillini with music by Claudio Monteverdi), enriched with a tournament and a spectacular naumachia. Given the complexity of the scenic arrangements and their very high cost, the theatre was only used nine times, on occasion of aristocratic weddings or important stately visits. Almost destroyed during an allied air raid in May 1944, the theatre was rebuilt in 1956 according to the original design; the wooden parts, originally entirely decorated, were left bare, to highlight what little remained of the original structure.

The National Gallery

The collections held in Parma’s National Gallery originally came from the Ducal Academy of Fine Arts, established in 1752 by duke don Filippo di Borbone (1794-1765), inside Palazzo della Pilotta. The newly-founded Academy, with its very own collection of paintings and archaeological finds from the excavations in Veleia, formed the original nucleus of the ancient Gallery, together with the student essays and with the paintings that won the Academy’s famous Large 19 annual competitions. The Gallery became an actual public museum in the early 19th century thanks to Maria Luigia of Austria, Duchess of Parma and Piacenza from 1816 to 1847. The museum was further enlarged and the ducal collections found their final arrangement in the historic Academy halls thanks to the organic design by painter and engraver Paolo Toschi, nominated Director of the Academy in 1802, and by architect Nicola Bettoli. The current layout stems from an on-going project realised in several stages, starting in the 1970s and continuing with further interventions between 1986 and 1992, which saw the complete refurbishment of the museum halls and displays. The Century halls Gallery may be visited through two different routes, both of which begin in Teatro Farnese, and which include, in chronological and school order, works by Benedetto Antelami, Agnolo Gaddi, Beato Angelico, Cima da Conegliano, Francesco Francia, Leonardo, Correggio, Parmigianino, Dosso Dossi, Holbein, El Greco, Annibale, Ludovico and Agostino Carracci, Schedoni, Guercino, Nuvolone, G. M. Crespi, Tiepolo, Piazzetta, Pittoni, Cataletto, Bellotto and Sebastiano Ricci.

Soprintendenza ai beni storici artistici etnoantropologici di Parma e PiacenzaFondazione Cariparma