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Gran Teatro La Fenice

Venice may be a provincial town these days, but it still has an active cultural scene and an opera house that dates back to the waning days of the Venetian Republic. The Gran Teatro La Venice was built in 1792, five years before Napoleon sent the Doge packing, and the 326-seat jewel box of an opera house continues to please music fans and socialites more than 200 years later.

Gran Teatro La Fenice canalside viedw

ABOVE: A canalside view of the Gran Teatro La Fenice, which reopened in 2003 after a catastrophic fire in 1996. INSET BELOW: The opera house's façade, which has survived two fires over the last two centuries, and a doggie diva on the theatre steps.

Gran Teatro La Fenice facadeIt's worth noting that the Italian word fenice means "phoenix," and the theatre has lived up to its name: In the 19th and 20th Centuries, La Fenice had two catastrophic fires--the first in 1836, and the second in January, 1996 after a pair of electricians set a small fire to avoid contractual penalties for work delays. The  1996 fire quickly got out of hand, and firefighters were unable to control the blaze because the neighboring canals (which normally could have supplied water for hoses) had been drained for maintenance.

La Fenice was rebuilt after both fires, and the current incarnation of Gran Teatro La Fenice combines immaculately-restored architectural detail with modern behind-the-scenes stage technology. The theatre reopened on December 14, 2003, less than eight years after being gutted by flames.

Operas, concerts, and tours

Maggie at La FeniceGran Teatro La Fenice has a year-round schedule of opera performances, orchestral concerts, shows by visiting ballet companies, and other events. Because the theatre is small, tickets are expensive and not always easy to obtain. Fortunately, you needn't attend a performance to see the theatre: Self-guided audiotours are available most days, and groups can request guided tours.

For a link to the Gran Teatro La Fenice's Web site and tour information, see page 2 of this article.

For large captioned photos of the theatre's interior, continue to page 3.

 Next page: Practical information, tours


In this article:

Top photo copyright © FotoVoyager.
Inset photo copyright © Luke Daniek.

 

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