Perhaps the most important sight for visitors is Palladio’s "swansong", the Teatro Olimpico. Today it is Europe’s oldest surviving indoor theater. It was designed and built by Palladio between 1579 and 1585. He began work on this magnificent project and had the outer walls erected by 1580, when his death left his student, Vincenzo Scamozzi responsible for the completion.
We were a bit disappointed when we visited to find that the portion that was formerly a castle, now leaves only the stage and two rooms open to the public. The Odeon room features some notable frescoes and is used as a music room. The auditorium was a marvelous display; originally designed to replicate the experience of sitting in an ancient classical outdoor theater, with a blue-sky ceiling and marble (actually painted wood) steps. The stage set itself represents the Greek city of Thebes and features clever trompe L’aeil art techniques which add depth and perception to the stage appearance.
Since the 1930's the theater has slowly been brought back to life and Classical concerts, jazz, dance and theatre are all now staged in the Teatro Olimpico. Between April and October special visitors performances feature ballets and opera presentations. Open Mon to Sat 9:00 am to 12:15 and 2:15 to 4:45pm (in summer until 6:45 pm). Entrance fee is about 5000 Lira ($2-$3 US). NOTE: Tourists can find several ticket options and bargain prices which provide entrance to several of the city center’s major museums and other attractions. Check at the Information office in Piazza Matteotti.
by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
January 2, 2001
From journal Vicenza, City of Palladio