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Porto San Giorgio, Teatro "Vittorio Emanuele II"

Porto San Giorgio, which for a long time was called Porto di Fermo, experienced a particular moment of splendour during the first half of the 19th century, when it enjoyed the light irradiated by Fermo. At that time Fermo was the Capital of the Department of the Tronto, and enjoyed the same status as Ancona and Macerata. In a moment of intellectual renewal, the cultural sector benefited most from that favourable socio-political situation. The foundation of the Società dei Palchi, dates from 1811. This was a consortium for the construction of a permanent theatre which quickly reached about fifty members, each holding a box. Together they decided to ask the architect Giuseppe Lucatelli to design a theatre. An area of medieval origin known as “Casa del Forno pubblico” (the Public Bakery) was chosen as the site. The theatre was inaugurated in 1817, but over the years the structure underwent a considerable number of restorations which limited full use for theatrical performance. Despite the various periods of closure, the theatre was constantly a fulcrum of lively cultural work and had its golden age during the second half of the 19th century, when it was named in honour of the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II. Around 1950 the building became the property of the city council, but had to undergo another period of restoration as it was declared dangerous. The lights came back on only in 1992 and the public flowed once again through the doors, ready to fall into dutiful silence and enjoy the return to life of the municipal theatre. Located in the square of the same name, it has a simple neoclassical brick façade, adorned only by the large white travertine plaque bearing a celebrated Latin saying of the poet Jean de Santeul: “Castigat ridendo mores”, meaning “(Satire) corrects customs by laughing at them”. The phrase is engraved between the two masks of tragedy and comedy, symbols of the two maximum expressions of the art of theatre. As we enter the municipal theatre we are amazed by the sober elegance of the horseshoe-shaped hall, with very small stalls and three tiers of boxes. The stylistic linearity dominating the design by the master Lucarelli combines, through a measured and particularly refined balance, with the decorations by Sigismondo Nardi, which weave around the boxes and the unique fresco which looks down from the plafond of the hall. On a marble balustrade running all round the ceiling, as well as a long row of representatives of cosmic harmony, are four columns with the herms of Sophocles, the illustrious representative of Tragedy, Aristophanes, the emblem of Comedy, Alcaeus, the ambassador of Music and Pindar, the celebrated emissary of the art of naked poetry, Dance. Each of the four sectors is recognisable thanks to a marble support bearing the name of each artistic expression together with a motto representing it. At the centre of the plafond, the ceiling seems to open up to the starry firmament which exhibits proudly the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Particularly noteworthy is the curtain of the Foligno-born painter Mariano Piervittori, reproducing the triumphal entrance of Vittorio Emanuele II into Piazza San Giorgio in 1860, greeted by an excited crowd. As well as being a fine painting, the curtain is considered a significant testimony of the changes made over time to the layout of the square.

  1. Giuseppe Lucatelli was born in March 1751 in Mogliano, near Macerata. After learning basic notions of drawing, painting and sculpture, in 1776 he moved to Rome to complete his training and also to acquire the foundations of philosophy, architecture and mathematics. In the stimulating artistic atmosphere of the capital he met A. R. Mengs who was fundamental for Lucatelli's artistic evolution. He abandoned definitively his baroque style for an elegant neoclassical expression. After a brief interval - in which he collaborated with the publisher and printer G. B. Bodoni on a number of cartoons which were much appreciated by Ferdinand of Bourbon, Duke of Parma - he obtained his first important commission. From 1788 onwards he devoted himself with great difficulty to the design, construction and decoration of the theatre in Tolentino. His frescoes are marvellous, as are the canvases that at that time enriched the fronts of the first tier of boxes with elegance and prestige. In the lively territory of the Marche of the early 19th century, Lucatelli managed to obtain a series of important commissions. However, even though he held the position of teacher of drawing and painting in Macerata, Tolentino and Fermo, in his old age he had serious financial problems. He died in Tolentino in 1828.

  1. Pietro Sigismondo Nardi was born in March 1866 into a poor family in Porto San Giorgio. His propensity for art was immediately recognisable from the way in which he used to imitate his father, a humble sacristan of Saint George's Church, in the finicky work of chasing small wax statues. He learnt the first rudiments of the art of painting in Fermo, in the workshop of Silvestro Brandimarte, and then moved to Rome to continue his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti (Fine Art Academy). He followed the lessons of Domenico Bruschi, a master of ornamental drawing, and Cesare Maccari, an official artist of the Kingdom of Italy. He collaborated with the latter on the decoration of the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto, Palazzo Madama and Palazzo di Giustizia in Rome. Later he worked together with the Roman painter Cesare Mariani on the frescoes of the octagonal dome, the presbytery and the vaults of the nave of the Cathedral in Ascoli Piceno with episodes of the life of Saint Emygdius. Recognised as a skilled frescoist, he worked all over Italy, without ever forgetting his birthplace, where he died in 1924.