The Farnese Theatre in Parma      


The Farnese Theatre is the most ancient and largest baroque theatre existing inside a building.
Sited on the first floor of the great Pilotta Palace, it is related to the Renaissance tradition of the court's theatres and it was built in 1618-19 by the ferrarese architect G. B. Aleotti, named l'Argenta for the Duke Ranuccio I Farnese, who wished to welcome in Parma Cosimo de' Medici with great celebrations. The distinguished guest's announced visit, in vain waited for, should consolidate the marriage alliance between the two ducal families and finally, in 1628, the marriage between Odoardo Farnese and Margherita de' Medici was celebrated, so that the famed Theatre could be at last inaugurated with the mythical - allegorical "show" enitled "Mercurio e Marte" with musics by Claudio Monteverdi and verses by Achillini, culminating in a naumachia, for which it was necessary to flood tho orchestra floor, with the astonishment of the public. The architect Aleotti, inspired by the classical.age theatres, transformed a huge "hall" which was originally intended as a "salle d'armes" in a theatrical space of great technical complexity, which still fascinates for its warm and golden wood and its wide volumes. The wooden structures were originally painted to mimic more precious materials like marble and bronze, and it was decorated with many plaster statues, work of Luca Reti, imitating white marbles, such effects being now vanished after wartime destruction in 1944. The Theatre, accurately re-built in its volumes in the '50s, still holds on the walls many portions of the original frescoes, painted by various masters, including Malosso and Lionello Spada. The wide-proportioned stage, used to hide complex stage machines which, according to the baroque theatre's character, allowed spectacular changes of scene. In the Theatre were held only nine representations, during ducal marriages or some Princes' visits. After the last representation in 1732, the Farnese Theatre slowly deteriorated until the almost total destruction of the wooden parts due to the fragmentation of a bomb, during the Second World War.


Listening at the Farnese' acoustics

In October 1996 acoustics measurements were conducted inside the T. Farnese, during an exhibition of artistic dressings: more than 200 mannequins were located on the gradons, heavily dressed with amazing clothings. This made possible to take acoustics measurements while the room was not "empty", but with an amount of sound absorption making its response more similar to what could have been during the representations of 3 centuries ago.

The measuremnt equipment was the following:

Measurements were taken at 27 positions in the stalls and over the gradons; the sound source was at the center of the stage, where a dozen of mannequins also were. In each point, a binaural (stereo) impulse response was measured. Employing the impulse response of a point located on the gradons, and the convolution software Aurora, the following three sound samples were produced. They have to be listened by headphones to give the proper spatial impression (3D acoustical imaging).

Speech Symphonic Music Single Violin
RealAudio
Plain .WAV file    AL-FARNE.WAV       09-FARNE.WAV       WEB-FARN.WAV