The history of A. Ponchielli Theatre
The current A. Ponchielli Theatre building is the result of a series of building, rebuilding, changes, maintenance and renovation that lasted for two hundred-fifty years. Two are, substantially, the forms the Theatre had in its long history: the first one, which dates back to the XVIII century and the actual one, since 1808.
The history starts in 1747, when a group of nobles decided to equip the city with a true theatre, in place of the rooms, in some way temporary, and vanished anyway, that came first.
The design task was entrusted to Giovanni Battista Zaist, a famous Cremona architect.
Nazari’s theatre, from the owner’s name, changed its name in 1785 when bought from Palchettisti (Box-holders), in “Teatro della società” (Society theatre) or of “Nobile Associazioni” (Noble associations).
That first construction was destroyed in 1806 by a fire, as often happened in XVIII century theatres, built with wood; the resident decided on the immediate reconstruction, entrusting the project to the most known theatre architect of the moment, Luigi Canonica, that took inspiration from his teacher, Piermarini, but with several original approaches.
In this way it was built one of the best theatres at the time, with a u-shaped room, four orders of boxes and a gallery, named Teatro della Concordia, which was added, at the beginning of our century, the name of the best Cremona’s opera composer, Amilcare Ponchielli. Furthermore, starting from that moment, some improvements were made, like the stage extension, which made it one of the biggest in Italy. In 1824 a new fire partially destroyed the building, immediately refurbished by Faustino Rodi and Luigi Voghera.
Acquired from the municipality property in 1986, since 1989 the Ponchielli has been submitted to radical renovation, refurbishment, adjustment and technological upgrade intervention.
Since 2003 the management is entrusted to a Foundation.
A “jewel” of the Theatre is for sure the historical clock. The theatre’s clock dates back to early ‘800, it’s still functioning and it’s possible to see it in action from the stalls during the performances.
But do you know how it works? Its charge’s still manual and its mechanism is rather particular: the beat time is regulated thanks to the counterweight of a stone (still the original one) that weighs about 20 kilos. The clock has an autonomy of 12 hours and when the weight touches the ground it stops. A theatre technician takes care to charge it every show night!
The Rizzi curtain
The A. Ponchielli Theatre guards one of the most beautiful historical curtains ever.
The “Sipario Rizzi” was made by Cremona’s painter in 1891 and painted on oil on canvas. The impotent dimensions of seven for eleven meters, contain the representation of “L’allegoria della Storia della Musica”. The curtain is used during some Concert season shows, so the audience can enjoy it.