Historical note G.B. Pergolesi Theatre

In 1731, in a small and elegant town of the Marche region, Jesi, renowned for his artistic life, the audience became unsatisfied with the old and uncomfortable Lion Theatre. In 1790 the town Council responded to the society’s wish and decided to build a new theatre. A group of gentleman led by the Prelate General Bishop Sir. Pietro Gravina dei Grandi di Spagna, prepared an estimate of the building’s cost  which was 16.000 scudos (the coin of that time) eventually rising to 24.000 ones.

To recover their investment, these gentlemen decided to sell one hundred theatre-boxes which were arranged in four tiers. Buying  a theatre box, members of Jesi society  became in part owners of the theatre. The new structure called Concordia Theatre was the work of architects Francesco Maria Ciaraffoni from Fano and Cosimo Morelli from Imola, but between them in fact there was little concordCosimo Morelli  was undoubtedly one of the most famous experts of theatre-design. His project of the elliptical-shaped curve, structured in the auditorium of the Pergolesi Theatre is responsible for its fine acoustic.
The paintings and interior decorations are the work of famous neoclassical artists such as Giovanni Antonio Antolini (author of the never realized project Foro Bonaparte in Milan), Felice Giani, Gaetano Bartolani, with the help of Francesco Micarelli and Giuseppe Guiducci.
For the inauguration of the theatre (during the Carnival 1798) three new operas were performed: Lo spazzacamino principe and Le confusioni della somiglianza ossia Li due gobbi  by Marc’Antonio Portogallo and La capricciosa corretta by V. Martin y Soler.
During the nineteenth century many modifications were made to the interior and exterior of  the theatre. For instance the construction of the square in 1828, and the extensive enlargement of the Concordia Theatre during the years 1834-1837, when the theatre was closed. The installation (1839) of the monumental clock on the facade, was paid for by Prince Beauharnais, a popular figure in Jesi.

The front curtain restored in 1995 was realized in 1850 in typical romantic style  by the Jesi painter Luigi Mancini. The scene represents the entrance of  the Svabian Emperor Federico II  into Jesi, the city he loved and called “my Bethlehem” and where he was born in 1194. It is uncertain whether his grand return to Jesi ever happened, but it has become a local legend.
In 1883 the theatre was renamed Teatro Giovanni Battista Pergolesi in honour of the great composer who was born in Jesi. After this, a period of difficulty in the Opera’s development was caused by the rising fashion of “light” performances, operetta, soirées, cinema together with the social and economic effects of the  first world war.
Necessary renovations to the  roof and financial problems forced the union of private owners (il Condominio) to sell the Pergolesi Theatre  to the town Council of Jesi in 1929.

Artistic activities resumed from 1934 to 1942, but were sporadic during the war years.
Since 1947 the Teatro Pergolesi’s programming has developed steadily, hosting great artists such as:  Benvenuto Franci (Andrea Chénier), Clara Petrella and Bruno Landi (in Manon by Massenet, in 1949), Mafalda Favero and Aldo Protti (in Bohème in 1950), and the young Renata Scotto, making her debut in 1953 in Madama Butterfly one of her most successful roles.
On the occasion of the 250° anniversary of the birth of Pergolesi (in 1960) the theatre produced  Lo frate ‘nnammurato, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, already performed at La Scala theatre in Milan. In 1968 Jesi repeated the collaboration with the famous Milan theatre, hosting La Scala Ballet Company with a performance of Carla Fracci.
In recent years the Teatro Pergolesi has continued to promote various artistic programmes.
Since the summer of 2005 the Theatre has been managed by the Pergolesi Spontini Foundation which develops a rich cultural heritage and organises all artistic events of the theatre and lot of other activities.

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