Anne's Blog

In Bevagna, the Curtain Opens on Teatro Torti Splendor

Date: February 11, 2021 - categories: , , , - Leave your thoughts

The 13th-century civic building Palazzo dei Consoli,  dominating Bevagna’s main square, Piazza Filippo Silvestri…….

….hides a treasure just inside that door  under the pointed Gothic arch at the top of the stairs  – which you can see also in this decades-past postcard of Bevagna:

When you’re next in Bevagna, head to the door beneath the stairway to the office of the volunteer tourist office, the Pro Loco – as their personnel have the key to the “treasure” (just one of many in Bevagna).
And when you climb up those steps, elderly signori of Bevagna sitting and chatting might have to move over so that you can pass – and here they are in a photo of Luigi Frappi, Bevagna photographer (and artist):
Entering that door at the top of the stairs is akin to opening a bejeweled treasure box for inside is the bellissimo Teatro Torti, one of the smallest theaters in Umbria,  showing off perfect elegant harmony in its limited dimensions.

Ater the Palazzo dei Consoli caved in on itself in the 1832 earthquake, the people of Bevagna united together in their unanimous decision that a theater should be incorporated into the restoration:  that decision was mandated by a promoting committee in 1871.

The Teatro Torti – named after the bevignate illustrious man of letters, Francesco Torti…  … was built in 1886, on a design of the architect Antonio Martini.

Mariano Piervittori frescoed the ceiling with whimsical depictions of dancing Muses:

(Detail of ceiling fresco):

As the theater is small, closed boxes would have visually “suffocated”: the open boxes, bordered with railings give a sense of greater space:

Over the stage, a sumptuous trompe l’oeil (“trick of the eye”) fresco spreads out with seemingly sculpted – thought not really – voluptuous reclining figures flanking the coat-of-arms bestowed on Bevagna in 1380 by a grateful Pope Innocent IV, wishing to reward Guelf (supportive of the Papacy) Bevagna for the town’s support during his conflicts with the Holy Roman Emperor.

The “OSF” on  the white cross backed by red and the Papal keys stands for “ob servatam fidem” (“for having maintained faith”).

Inauguraton of the Teatro was on  August 28,  1886 – with the presentation of a Verdi opera.

A dear elderly retired veterinarian, Professore Piatti – an erudite local historian – told me when I first met him years ago that the Teatro had been for decades the heart of the social life of Bevagna.   bevignati families had purchased the palchi (boxes), passing them down from generation to generation.

In this theater, family festas took place, wedding ceremonies and countless local celebrations shared by all…such as New Year’s parties …as captured in this 1956 photo:

….and in this one, too:

The Teatro filled with ebullient family groups, children in costume each year for Carnevale (Mardi Gras):

By the 1960’s-1970’s, the Teatro was in need of restoration but the bevignati owning all the boxes were unable to affront the expenses.  Ownership of the theater shifted to the city of Bevagna and restoration was started -with completion in 1995.  Since then,  a rich theatrical season fills the seats – only 251- of this gem of a theater.

The original sipario – the painted curtain scene which drops to the stage –  depicting the Latin poet, Propertius (from Assisi or Spello) showing Francesco Torti his homeland…………..was in need of restoration – and still is (funds are lacking).

Luigi Frappi, esteemed local artist, has painted a new sipario – finished in 1994:

 

You won’t want to miss the splendor when next in Bevagna – as many of my past tour guests will confirm…

….and my husband, Pino, too, who joined in on a Bevagna tour – and ended up on stage with Samantha and friends trying out Yoga movements – as our Pro Loco accompanier applauded:

Pino’s ready to head back – but for a theatrical presentation.

Care to join us?

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)