Museo del Teatro Argentina

The City of Rome bought it in 1869 from the Torlonia family, the theatre Argentina has always been the most important theatre in Rome. It dates from the first half of the Eighteenth century, it was built in 1731 upon the wish of Duke Giuseppe Sforza Cesarini from the drawings of Girolamo Theodoli by Paolo Cappelletti and Nicola Zagaglia, the heads of the mechanical craftsmen from St Peter’s. It was entirely built in wood, with the exception of the boundary walls and the staircase which are in masonry.

The theatre consisted of a horseshoe shaped hall for obvious reasons of visibility and acoustics, with stalls and boxes.There were forty rows of benches separated by the backs of other benches following the shape of the room.The one hundred and eighty six boxes were disposed in six orders bearing a rather simple pictorial decoration on the window-sills. These together with the stuccoes and the gilding of the proscenium and children bearing festoons painted on the ceiling, were the simple decoration of the hall. A richer decoration was added only in 1837 on the occasion of works carried out on the building structure of the theatre by Pietro Camporese the Younger, while architect T. Hoil had built the façade just a few years earlier in 1826. Since then the theatre the Museum of the Argentina Theatre . It is located in the two halls of the attic, the Museum aims to document the history of the theatre itself following an itinerary in three sections. The topographical one concerns the history of the district where the theatre was established.“

Argentina”derives from the Latin name (Argentoratum, the present Strasbourg) of the city of birth of Johannes Burckhardt, the famous papal Master of Ceremonies who had incorporated the neighbouring medieval tower in his residence. The second section, the richest, exhibits objects related to the original theatre, like fragments of the canvass (Nineteenth-Twentieth century), pieces of wall decorations coming from the ground floor of the theatre (Twentieth century), the final cardboard of the lost curtain and preparatory drawings for the equally lost curtain of the Apollo theatre by Cesare Fracassini, a caricature by N. Zagaglia, works by P. L. Grezzi and the large wheel used in Nineteenth century to raise the curtain and scenes.

The third and last section illustrates the life of the theatre from the opening performance of January 31st 1732 dedicated to the musical drama “Berenice”, through sketches, playbills and photographic documents relating to the permanent companies of actors of the theatre (the “Dramatic Company of Rome” and the “New Dramatic Company of the Teatro Argentina). It is also possible to see an ancient truss in the museum. This the only left of the eight built in 1731 as part of the ancient cover of the theatre and saved from the several restorations to be an example of the Eighteenth century constructive technique.

Information and Addresses
Address Largo di Torre Argentina
Visiting Hours Tuesday – Friday from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm and from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm; Sunday from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm
Closed Monday
Telephone 06 67106018/7
Price € 3,00; concessions € 1,50