It took only a few hours for Turin’s Teatro Regio (“Royal Theater”) to go up in smoke. It reopened only after 37 years, having overcome a long and complicated journey between constant project revisions and various causes to stall, which no “deus ex machina” could solve with a simple “coup de théâtre”.
The original building designed by Filippo Juvarra was inaugurated in 1740, and devoured by the flames during the night of February 8, 1936. In those first two centuries of its history, famous composers such as Gluck, Cimarosa, Paisiello, Rossini, Wagner, Massenet, and Puccini had written music for the Regio. It was the theater where Napoleon had enjoyed three shows, the stage of Arturo Toscanini’s debut and of the Italian premiere of Strauss’s “Salomè”.
During the dramatic events of 1936, the fire burnt down the historic structure in a mere four hours.
The new building didn’t open until 1973, when Carlo Mollino’s new design came to life with “I Vespri siciliani”, directed by Maria Callas and Giuseppe Di Stefano.
Since then – except for some renovation work between 1995 and 1996, which was harshly criticized for its aesthetic, but widely praised for the improvements it brought to the acoustics – the Regio has been collecting season after season of great musical success.