The Olympic Theater in Vicenza
The Olympic Theater in Vicenza is a masterpiece that was inaugurated by another masterpiece: the first performance staged in the building, designed by the Paduan architect Andrea Palladio, was “Oedipus the King”, which is universally considered the creative climax of Sophocles’ work.
The theater opened its doors during the Carnival of 1585. Palladio died before seeing his work completed, but the set of the tragedy was designed by his spiritual heir, Vincenzo Scamozzi. On stage, the audience saw the charismatic ruler of Thebes seek and find the truth about the heinous acts he had unwittingly committed. A tragic discovery that led him to blind himself and lose all the wealth and glory he had acquired until then.
The wooden superstructures erected for that magnificent opening were never removed. They depict the seven streets of Thebes, which can be seen in perspective in the five openings in the proscenium. They are still in place, above the rectangular stage facing the cavea and steps: a structure that Palladio designed with explicit inspiration from the Roman theaters described by Vitruvius.
A spectacular theater, even when there are no actors on stage.