A cultural and historical treasure, Reggio’s Valli Theater was built between 1852 and 1857 from a project by Modenese architect Cesare Costa (1801-1876). It is located in the space occupied by the ancient citadel, and it covers an area of 3890 m2. The theater has undergone slight modifications, but its appearance is basically unchanged in respect to when it was inaugurated.
Aerial view of the theater built from a project by architect Cesare Costa and engineer Antonio Tegani, 1852-57
The main façade faces south and rises up over three steps in granite. The lower part rests on 12 columns which form a colonnade. The upper part is subdivided by 14 ionic pillars, with 13 windows opening up between them. The coat of arms of the city of Reggio Emilia is located above the central window. Fourteen allegorical statues stand atop the façade.
Night view of the facade
The decorations inside the theater, executed by Girolamo Magnani, depict the glories of Greek theater in the peristyle, of Latin theater in the lobby, and of Italian theater in the rest of the halls.
Vault in the Mirror Hall
Giuseppe Ugolini, Maenad, detail of the lobby vault
Lobby vault, decorated with twelve Maenads by Giuseppe Ugolini
Once inside, just beyond the lobby lies an atrium, to the right of which a great staircase leads to the foyer.
Mirrors in the Mirror Hall
The atrium also leads to the horseshoe shaped auditorium which holds a total of 1100 seats counting the house, four tiers of box seats and the gallery.
The boxes are embellished with gilded decorations. Decorated and painted by Reggian Domenico Pellizzi in 1856, the vault was is divided into four large panels alternating with four minor panels: the main panels depict representations from Opera, Comedy, Choreography and Tragedy, while the minor panels show allegories of theatre arts.
Domenico Pellizzi, Vault painted in 1856 with putti symbolizing melodrama, comedy, tragedy and choreography. The putti alternate with portraits of the most exemplary authors in each genre: Metastasio, Pergolesi and Bellini for melodrama; Goldoni, Nota and Cecchi for comedy; Viganò and Gioia for choreography; Alfieri for tragedy
Theater auditorium: detail of the vault
The curtain was painted by Alfonso Chierici in 1857; the drop-curtain was instead painted by Giovanni Fontanesi, also in 1857, and it portrays a rural landscape with shepherds dancing around a statue of Apollo. A third curtain was produced in 1991 by painter Omar Galliani.
Omar Galliani, curtain, 1991
Restoration of the statues on the façade was recently undertaken under the direction of architect Varini, working under the supervision of the Superintendency of Environmental and Architectural Assets of Emilia.
The theater, dedicated to actor Romolo Valli, today hosts a prestigious opera and concert season in addition to a wide variety of dance performances. The theater also hosts a library, an archive, and a historical discotheque, all open to the public.
The library specializes in music and performance and includes 7000 volumes, 1500 opera librettos and a section for orchestrations and scores, particularly regarding the string quartet repertoire. Also noteworthy are the “Agosti” discotheque and the Theater Archive, which holds one of the most copious historical collections in Italy in the field of opera and music.