It is the oldest theatre in town, dating to the second half of the XVIIth century; it was built exploiting in part the structures of the unfinished Palazzo della Signoria. The first mention of the use of the place for public representations dates to 1664, and four years later it was named “Nobile Teatro”; it is one of the oldest theatres with boxes in Italy. Originally it had a wooden structure and in 1751 it was embellished by pictorial decorations, curtains and scenes, that gave it a very valuable aspect. But after 1819, because of the theft of the XVIIth-century decorations by unknown Florentine restorers, the theatre’s aspect was of remarkably lower quality, leading the Spoletan population to wish for a greater and more valuable theatre; in 1853, some even attempted to set it on fire.
The building of the Teatro Nuovo (later Gian Carlo Menotti Theatre), finished in 1864 and triggered the old theatre’s decadence, but in just ten years the City decided to restore it. Spoletan architect Giovanni Montiroli was entrusted with its restoration project and in 1880 it was opened again and dedicated to Caio Melisso, emperor Augustus’ trusted librarian, writer, comedist and grammarian from Spoleto. The plant today has a horseshoe shape, three rows of boxes and a gallery; the ceiling is decorated by paintings portraying Apollo and the Muses, while the curtain shows the “Glory of Caio Melisso”, both works by Domenico Bruschi. The theatre seats 300 and is considered to be very elegant; it has been hosting shows of the Festival Of Two Worlds ever since.
Address: Piazza Duomo
L’Umbria, Manuali per il Territorio, Spoleto, Roma 1978