Teatro di San Carlo ★★

The interior, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
The interior

One of the world's top opera houses is in Naples

Real Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, a side view from Via San Carlo, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. (Photo by Armando Mancini)
The facade, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. (Photo by Jimmy G.)
The Royal Box, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. (Photo by Pasquale Matrisciano)
Incendio del Teatro San Carlo del 12 febbraio 1816, or the Fire at the Theater (painted before 1864) by Salvatore Fergola, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. (Photo Public Domain)
Veduta del Teatro San Carlo dopo l'incendio della notte del 12-13 febbraio 1816, A view of the theater after the 1816 fire by an unknown Neapolitan artist, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. (Photo Public Domain)

San Carlo is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected opera houses in Italy, built by Giovanni Medrano in 1737 under the auspices of Charles of Bourbon (who didn't particularly care for opera, but cared very much about his reputation as an enlightened patron of the arts).

After a fire in 1816, the theater was rebuilt by Antonio Niccolini—who, it is said, filled the walls with terra-cotta vases to help give the performance space what is still widely regarded as the best acoustics in Europe—and San Carlo reopened under the musical direction of Gioacchino Rossini.

The glittering chandeliers and sumptuous red velvet and gold accouterments of the vast interior—seating 3000 in six tiers of box seats—have seen the premiers of operas by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti.

The original primadonnas

One of the greatest professional and social coups for a soprano in Europe is to be contracted by Naples' San Carlo opera house to sing as the first lady in the company. How do you say "first lady "in Italian? Why, prima donna, of course.

The Sancarlo has also hosted more than 250 years of Neapolitan society. While Neapolitans are indisputably lovers of great opera, that have traditionally attended the season at San Carlo more to see what everyone else is wearing this year—and for the gentlemen to play a between-acts round-robin of the private boxes occupied by unmarried ladies.

There is also a small on-site museum—the Museo Memoria e Musica, or Memus—dedicated to the theater's history and musical legacy.

 
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Photo gallery
  • The interior, Teatro di San Carlo, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Real Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, a side view from Via San Carlo, Teatro di San Carlo, Italy (Photo by Armando Mancini)
  • The facade, Teatro di San Carlo, Italy (Photo by Jimmy G.)
  • The Royal Box, Teatro di San Carlo, Italy (Photo by Pasquale Matrisciano)
  • Incendio del Teatro San Carlo del 12 febbraio 1816, or the Fire at the Theater (painted before 1864) by Salvatore Fergola, Teatro di San Carlo, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Veduta del Teatro San Carlo dopo l

Teatro Di San Carlo tours

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Tips

Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Teatro di San Carlo for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

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How long does a tour of Teatro San Carlo take?

Tours last 45 minutes.

Opera season!

Opera season runs late January to May.

Ballet season runs April to early June.

Concerts run year-round.

Buy performance tickets

You can order tickets to a performance at Teatro San Carlo from Selectitaly.com