Les décors et machines originaux du théâtre de Feltre: Enjeux techniques d’une scène de province dans l’Italie du XIXe siècle

Bortolotti, Raphaël (2021). Les décors et machines originaux du théâtre de Feltre: Enjeux techniques d’une scène de province dans l’Italie du XIXe siècle In: Illiano, Roberto (ed.) Performing Arts and Technical Issues. Staging and Dramaturgy: Vol. 4 (pp. 235-268). Brepols

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This article proposes to highlight some technical aspects of a provincial theatre in Italy during the 19th century. It is based on a representative example; the theatre of Feltre, in Veneto. One of this theatre’s peculiarities is its auditorium, which has been preserved since its restoration carried out by the scenographer Tranquillo Orsi in 1843. Its stage equipment which was made for the occasion, such as the wings, backdrop curtains, a front curtain, and parts of the original stage machinery used to set these elements in motion, was also preserved. Some of the original lighting system remains intact as well. This research examines issues related to the technical aspects around these elements : their design, their placement on stage, the machinery used to set them in motion, the lighting system illuminating them, as well as the stage effects available. Beyond the elements relative to the stage, this study extends to consider the theatre as a whole and is particularly interested in the theatre’s spatial configuration. The case of Feltre makes it possible to examine the specificity of the provincial theaters’ context; far from major urban centres; indeed the reality of a provincial stage is different from that of the capitals. However, it is also representative of the majority of provincial theaters in 19th century Italy. The technical challenges a provincial stage faces take us far beyond the simple artistic dimension of the performance. They reveal a part of the Italian theatre system in all its complexity; a dense network of professional and amateur troupes, impresari, theatre members, spectators, and sometimes spectacular works that gradually make up the repertoire of provincial theaters. They enable these theaters to position themselves within a dense cultural network, contributing to their prestige and renown. The theatre thus contributes to the city's influence in the regional panorama, unifying an important social function for the city and its inhabitants with lucrative interests and speculative logics, the stakes of which are reflected in the very structure of the hall. The reality of a provincial theatre and the modesty of its means compared to a capital city theatre underlines the question of the often underestimated significance of provincial stages within the Italian theatre system in the 19th century.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation > Performance and interpretation


Bortolotti, Raphaël and
Illiano, Roberto


N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
T Technology > TT Handicrafts Arts and crafts




Staging and Dramaturgy






Raphaël Bortolotti

Date Deposited:

02 Dec 2022 10:23

Last Modified:

02 Dec 2022 10:23

Uncontrolled Keywords:

scénographie, théâtre, province, décors, technique





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