Ermione is one of the most particular and difficult operas by Rossini and it was created for Naples in 1819, after the success of Armida, Ricciardo and Zoraide and Moses in Egypt. With this opera Rossini wanted to start a proposal of dramatic, musical theatre characterized by strong shades. This type of theatre was peculiar for assigning a greater evaluation at the instrumental and recited elements. Ermione was very innovative for its time and, at the debut, it was a clamorous failure and remained in oblivion until 1977. For this new, ambitious production of the opera, Teatro di San Carlo has chosen Jacopo Spirei that is a talented “funambulist” between images, lighting and music of the contemporary lyric direction. After establishing himself abroad, especially in Austria and Germany, he is acquiring deserved success also in his native land. Spirei grew up artistically with Graham Vick and he worked as his assistant for fifteen years collaborating on many projects and curating different shootings. “When I prepare a direction – he declares – the only method existing for me is to go on the stage and work until I find something: a draft, a thread and then I follow it to discover where it brings me. Working with singers is a privilege and I will not change it for anything. Opera, as an art form, is extraordinary but can live only through singers and only singers can transform the work of the director, linked to the work of the conductor, in a unique and unmatched event”.


Production in Italian with Italian and English surtitles
Duration: 3 hours with intermission

Program and cast

Conductor | Alessandro De Marchi
Chorusmaster| Gea Garatti Ansini
Stage Direction | Jacopo Spirei
Set Design | Nikolaus Webern


Ermione, Angela Meade / Arianna Vendittelli
Andromaca, Teresa Iervolino
Pirro, Enea Scala
Oreste, Antonino Siragusa / Mert Sungu
Pilade, John Irvin
Fenicio, Guido Loconsolo / Ugo Guagliardo
Cleone, Gaia Petrone 
Cefisa, Lucia Cirillo


Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro di San Carlo
New Production of Teatro di San Carlo

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January 1970

Teatro San Carlo Naples Italy

Teatro di San Carlo Napoli; San Carlo Opera House; Real Teatro di San Carlo Naples.


The Real Teatro di San Carlo (Royal Theatre of Saint Charles), its original name under the Bourbon monarchy but known today as simply the Teatro di San Carlo, is anopera house in Naples, Italy. It is located adjacent to the central Piazza del Plebiscito, and connected to the Royal Palace.


It is one of the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world, opening in 1737, only five years after the Manoel Theatre in Malta and decades before both the Milan's La Scala and Venice's La Fenice theatres. [1]

The opera season runs from late January to May, with the ballet season taking place from April to early June. The house once had a seating capacity of 3,285.[2] but nowadays has been reduced to 1414 seats.[3] Given its size, structure and antiquity was the model for the following theatres in Europe.


History of the opera house

Commissioned by the Bourbon King Charles VII of Naples (Carlo VII in Italian), Charles wanted to endow Naples with a new and larger theatre to replace the old, dilapidated, and too-small Teatro San Bartolomeo of 1621, which had served the city well, especially after Scarlatti had moved there in 1682 and had begun to create an important opera centre which existed well into the 1700s.

Thus, the San Carlo was inaugurated on 4 November 1737, the king's name day, with the performance of the opera Domenico Sarro's Achille in Sciro, which was based on the 1736 libretto by Metastasio which had been set to music that year by Antonio Caldara. As was customary, the role of Achilles was played by a woman, Vittoria Tesi, called "Moretta"; the opera also featured soprano Anna Peruzzi, called "the Parrucchierina" and tenor Angelo Amorevoli. Sarro also conducted the orchestra in two ballets as intermezzi, created by Gaetano Grossatesta, with scenes designed by Pietro Righini. The first seasons highlighted the royal preference for dance numbers, and featured among the performers famous castrati.

In the late 18th century, Christoph Willibald Gluck was called to Naples by the impresario Tufarelli to direct his 1852 Clemenza di Tito at the theatre, and Johann Christian Bach in 1761-62 brought two operas, Catone in Utica and Alessandro nell'Indie.

1737: Construction of the Teatro di San Carlo

The new opera house was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano, a military architect, and Angelo Carasale, the former director of the San Bartolomeo. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium is the oldest in the world. It was built at a cost of 75,000 ducats. The hall was 28.6 meters long and 22.5 meters wide, with 184 boxes, including those of proscenium, arranged in six orders, plus a royal box capable of accommodating ten people, for a total of 1,379 seats. Including standing room, the theatre could hold over 3,000 people. The fastidious composer and violinist Louis Spohr reviewed the size and acoustic properties of this opera house very thoroughly on 15 February 1817 and concluded that:

there is no better place for ballet and pantomime. Military movements of infantry and cavalry, battles, and storms at sea can be represented here without falling into the ludicrous. But for opera, itself, the house is too large. Although the singers, Signora Isabella Colbran, [Prima Donna of the Teatro San Carlo opera company and Rossini's future wife], and the Signori Nozzari, Benedetti, etc., have very strong voices, only their highest and most stentorian tones could be heard. Any kind of tender utterance was lost.

Much admired for its architecture, its gold decorations, and the sumptuous blue upholstery (blue and gold being the official colours of the Bourbons), the San Carlo was now the biggest opera house in the world.[6] In relation to the power of the existing Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Beauvert notes that the design of the house, with its 184 boxes lacking any curtains was so that "no one could avoid the scrutiny by the sovereign" who had his private access from the Royal Palace.

In 1809 Domenico Barbaia was appointed manager of the royal opera houses in Naples and remained in charge until 1841. He soon established a reputation for innovative and dazzling productions, which attracted both the public and leading singers to the opera house.


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