Piermarinis first plans were ready in September and construction began in

Piermarinis first plans were ready in september and

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Piermarini’s first plans were ready in September, and construction began in December.Twenty months later, on 3 August 1778, the Teatro alla Scala was completed. The name of the theater derives from the ducal chapel of Santa Maria della Scala, which was demolished by the duke expressly for the purpose of locating the new theater on its site (hence “ alla [at the] Scala”).The overlay of secular culture on religious memory is particularly indicative of Enlightenment operations in Milan.This site was a step out of the shadow of the Palazzo Ducale and into the tangle of streets where the theater could become the focus of a new urban center. Indeed, in anticipation of traffic congestion, the city’s Ornato commission insisted on a porte-cochère at the theater’s doorstep. The Scala exterior displays a balance of horizontal and vertical elements that tend toward an economical minimalism.The porte- cochère , however, was given a greater monumentality at the request of the palchettisti and its less convincing impression reveals the uneasy interplay between patrons’ requests and the architect’s refined design sense. Piermarini may have learned how to deal graciously with 81 the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900
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clients but he didn’t match Vanvitelli in finessing their ideas into great architecture.The exterior lost that shimmering coherence of the Belgioioso palace. Pietro Verri opined that the theater looked good on paper but rather forced in reality. But no one had reservations over Piermarini’s superb interior. The scientific nature of Enlightenment endeavor made theater design one of its distinctive hallmarks. Piermarini, as was his method, gleaned examples from the already prodigious technical literature on theater architecture, acoustic engineering, and fireproof construction. Various treatises on the subject posited the traditional half-round ancient model revived by Palladio against the innovative science of acoustics that called for elliptical, horseshoe, and bell shapes. In a lavish commemorative volume on La Scala, a Vanvitellian promotional touch, Piermarini published a synoptic table comparing all the major theaters of Italy. For La Scala, Piermarini synthesized the current technical knowledge in the rather unusual curve of the auditorium. It is clear he did not invent anything new here, but everyone confessed that it proved a perfect solution. Masonry construction was used in the auditorium structure, leaving wooden surfaces only on the box divisions and fronts and the coved ceiling. Ornament, controlled for acoustic purposes, was originally designed by Albertolli in harmony with Piermarini’s quiet classicism, but it has been altered repeatedly over the decades.The distribution was praised on both sides of the proscenium arch.There are spaces for a multitude of interrelated functions serving their purposes with varying degrees of pageantry or economy: opera and ballet production, scenery and costume workshops, gaming rooms and caffès, shops and offices.The Teatro alla Scala established a model of
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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