Teatro Olimpico
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Architect Andrea Palladio
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Location Vicenza, Italy   map
Date 1584   timeline
Building Type theater
 Construction System masonry, cut stone
Climate mediterranean
Context small city urban
Style High Renaissance
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Discussion Teatro Olimpico Commentary

The Teatro Olimpico was designed for the Vicenza Accademia Olimpica to stage theatrical performances. Modeled by Palladio after both his studies of several ancient theaters and his own illustrations of classical theater design, made for Daniele Barbaro's translation of Vitruvius, this is a lone surviving Renaissance theater.

Inside an exterior brick box, the elaborate wooden theater interior is a half circle of steep tiers of seats (wood covered benches) facing a rectangular proscenium stage. A wooden colonnade with cornice and figures above circles the top of the seats. The ceiling plane is undifferentiated and was later painted blue, suggesting an open sky above the theater.

The walls and ceiling of the proscenium are elaborately articulated with architectural details and statues, made of wood and plaster. A central arched opening dominates the back wall, flanked by two smaller doorways. Through these openings, elaborate stage sets of streets angle backstage, a triad through the central opening and single streets through each side. These sets, designed later by Scamozzi, use techniques of tilting the floors and contracting the angle between the street walls and the heights of their building facades to make foreshortened streets in perspective.

— JY, GreatBuildings.com

Resources
Sources on Teatro Olimpico

Donald Corner and Jenny Young. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1841.085

Ludwig G. Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz. Architecture in Italy, 1400 to 1600. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1974. ISBN 14-0560.38-6. NA1115.H4913. plan drawing, f111, p318.

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. interior photo, p79.

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. section drawing with seating in elevation, p199.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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