MNN Galleries

19 wondrous opera houses

By: Angela Nelson on Aug. 18, 2016, 6:42 a.m.
Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy

Photo: Pask00/Wikimedia Commons

9 of 21

Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy

Italy's oldest theater was commissioned by King Charles III, who championed the "project that combined magnificence with amazement and became a clear sign of his power," according to the theater's website. A Spanish colonel brigadier stationed in Naples, architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano, designed the opera house, which (before the arrival of La Scala) was the most prestigious in Italy. It was inaugurated in 1737, and a fast-moving fire in 1816 nearly destroyed it, but Tuscan architect Antonio Niccolini was able to restore it.

Adorned in the traditional red-and-gold style, the main theater is home to 184 boxes stacked in six tiers and a royal box for 10 people, for a total of 1,379 seats. The grand ceiling painting depicts Apollo introducing famous poets to Minerva, and the stage curtain is of the painting "Parnassus" by Giuseppe Mancinelli and Salvatore Fergola.