Early theatres in Naples
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Theatres for diverse musical and dramatic presentations began to open in Naples, Italy, in the mid-16th century as part of the general Spanish cultural and political expansion into the kingdom of Naples, which had just become a vicerealm of Spain. None of the early theaters still function as such, having been replaced by later facilities in the mid-18th century; however, in many cases, the buildings still stand and have been converted to other uses. These theaters include:
Built around 1550, the theater was the professional home to acting troupes from Spain "playing the provinces," and it provided a stage for the improvised antics of the masked and costumed figures in the then innovative Italian Commedia dell'arte. The theater was torn down and replaced by a church that still stands, called San Giorgio dei Genovesi, intended to serve the considerable Genovese population in Naples at the time. For many years, however, the church was called San Giorgo alla commedia vecchia (old theater), thus recalling the origins of the church.
Teatro dei Fiorentini
Built in the first decade of the 17th century, the Teatro dei Fiorentini was meant to replace the defunct Commedia theater. It took the name from the nearby church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. It survived as a theater into the 18th century and even survived the many subsequent years of surrounding urban renewal. An establishment calling itself the Fiorentino exists today on the same site but has not functioned as a theater for many years. It is, today, a Bingo hall.
Teatro San Bartolomeo
The predecessor of the current opera theater, San Carlo, was the theater of San Bartolomeo. Built in 1620, it was the site of the performances of the first real "opera" in Naples—that is, works by Monteverdi and others from the north, which had begun to filter down to the south. In 1724 the opera seria Didone abbandonata with the intermezzo L'impresario delle Isole Canarie by Metastasio and the composer Domenico Sarro was performed. San Bartolomeo was closed and replaced by the grand theater of San Carlo in 1737. The building, itself, still survives and was converted into the church of the Graziella by designs of Angelo Carasale.
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