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© Jeff Matthews             entry Dec 2009              



The Sannazzaro Theater

The Sannazzaro Theater is on the premises of the old monastery of the Fathers of the Spanish Mercedarian order. It is next to the church of Our Lady of Mercy (originally called the Chapel of Sant’Orsola) on via Chiaia, still the main pedestrian thoroughfare leading from the Royal Palace over to the western seaside and the Villa Comunale. After the ups and downs of monastery closures, reopenings and reclosures throughout much of the 19th century in Italy, the premises were finally and completely secularized and opened as the Teatro Sannazzaro on December 26, 1874 with a presentation of La petite Marquise by French playwright Henri Mehilac. For many decades, the theater was one of the leading theaters in the city, hosting names of international renown such as Eleonora Duse and virtually all well-known Neapolitan actors, from Eduardo Scarpetta to the De Filippo theater troupe.

The theater went into a decline in the 1930s, was turned into a cinema (the fate of many theaters in post-war Naples. See this link to the Bellini Theater) and was finally reborn as a theater in 1971 thanks to the efforts of actors Nino Veglia and Luisa Conte, husband and wife, mainstays of the Neapolitan theater tradition for many years. The theater has since been successful and is now permanent home to the ‘Luisa Conte’ Theater Company directed by Lara Sansone, grand niece of the actress for whom the company is named.

Their current effort (Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010) stars Sansone in a presentation of Café-chantant Forever (advertising poster detail, photo). It is a tribute to a particular genre of musical entertainment once very popular in Europe and especially in Naples (see this link).
 


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