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Teatro Lirico (Milan)

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Title: Teatro Lirico (Milan)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Piccolo Teatro (Milan), Milan, Giulietta e Romeo (Vaccai), Teatro Regio Ducal, Emanuele Muzio
Collection: Music in Milan, Theatres Completed in 1779, Theatres in Milan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Teatro Lirico (Milan)

The stage setting for Rossini's Le Comte Ory as performed at the Teatro alla Canobbiana in 1830

The Teatro Lirico (known until 1894 as the Teatro alla Canobbiana) is a theatre in Giorgio Gaber.


The Court Theatre of the Ducal Palace in Milan was destroyed by fire on February 26, 1776. With the city deprived of its only theatre, Giuseppe Piermarini was commissioned to design and build two new theatres on land surrounding the Palace. The church of Santa Maria della Scala was demolished to build the Teatro alla Scala. A second theatre was built nearby, on the site of the Scuole Cannobiane and was called the Teatro alla Canobbiana. It was inaugurated on August 21, 1779 (a little more than year after the opening of La Scala) with an opera buffa and ballet by Salieri. Like La Scala and many Italian opera houses of the time, it was built in a horseshoe shape, surmounted by a cupola, with four tiers of boxes and a gallery (or loggione). For nearly a century it was Milan's second opera house.

By the 1880s, with the increasing lack of public funds and fewer and fewer private subscriptions, the Teatro alla Canobbiana had fallen on hard times. In 1894, it was taken over by Edoardo Sonzogno and renamed the Teatro Lirico Internazionale, although it is normally referred to in Milan simply as the Teatro Lirico. The theatre continued to be used for opera, ballet, and plays into the 20th century, but was taken over by the city of Milan in 1926, after which it was increasingly used for public assemblies. It was in the Teatro Lirico that Benito Mussolini made one of his first public speeches in 1921 and his last public speech and radio broadcast in 1944. The building was badly damaged by a fire in 1938, but was repaired in time to host the 1943 season for La Scala after its own theatre had been largely destroyed by the American aerial bombardment of Milan during World War II.

Theatrical performances, and public meetings resumed after the War, and for a period in the 1960s, the Teatro Lirico was the home of Piccolo Teatro di Milano. In 1998, facing financial difficulties, Milan could no longer afford to run the theatre, and in the absence of outside funding, it was closed.

In April 2007, after several false starts, work was begun to renovate and modernise the theatre while keeping the Piermarini facade and the basic design of the original interior. When it re-opens, it will be called the Teatro Lirico Giorgio Gaber in honour of the Milanese singer, songwriter, actor and playwright who had frequently performed at the Teatro Lirico from the early 1960s until its closure in 1998. The renovated theatre will also house the archives of the Fondazione Giorgio Gaber.

World Premieres



  • "Teatro Lirico Giorgio Gaber". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  • Cevolani, A., 1999, Le Scuole Allievi Ufficiali della Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana durante la RSI: l'esperienza di Fontanellato, Università degli Studi di Milano, Doctoral Thesis. (accessed 24 May 2007)
  • Colussi, P., 2002, 'Palazzo Reale dagli Spagnoli ai Savoia', Storia di Milano. (accessed 24 May 2007)
  • Fondazione Giorgio Gaber, Press Release: 'Nasce a Milano il Teatro Lirico Giorgio Gaber', April 19, 2007. (accessed 24 May 2007)
  • Piano, R., 1995, Torino: la stampa racconta l'operetta, Università degli Studi di Torino, Doctoral Thesis. (accessed 24 May 2007)
  • Zonca, P. 'Il Lirico sarà la casa di Gaber', La Repubblica, 31 December 2005.

Further Reading

  • Cambiaghi, M. 1996, La Scena Drammatica Del Teatro Alla Canobbiana in Milano (1779-1892), Bulzoni. ISBN 978-88-7119-987-0

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