Teatro: Mecca for Musicians
string quartet practices in the empty theater.
of activity filled the interior of one of the richest theaters in
Italy. A medley of piano keys pounding, the conductor’s voice
shouting in Italian, and the stage crew nailing the final pieces
of the set together echoed off the three stories of dark red seats.
Above it all rose the booming, operatic voice of a heavy set woman
in the center of the stage, rehearsing for her upcoming performance.
Suspended from the intricately painted ceiling was the theater’s
most ancient and distinguishable item, the old chandelier. It dangled
in darkness, waiting for its chance to illuminate every corner of
the 127 year old theater.
No, this was not Rome. It was not
Florence, Milan or any of the other major Italian cities
that such historic and richly decorated theaters are usually
The Teatro di Cagli owes
much of its prominence and success to something called the
brevi residenze program. Established in 1999, the program
is the brainchild of theater director Sandro Pascucci. He
set up a contract with all of Italy in which important musicians,
actors, dancers, and comedians come to Cagli, use the theater
to rehearse for as long as they need, and then put on a
performance for the townspeople before embarking on their
But why Cagli? A tiny, relatively unheard of town doesn’t
seem like the likely choice for such famous entertainers.
“The theater is very beautiful,”
said Maurizia Paglioncini, the assistant director of cultural
involvements in the theater. “And the sound system
why Cagli? A tiny, relatively unheard of town doesn't
seem like a likely choice for such famous entertainers.
Above, outside the theater.
Below, a side street view
of the theater, a medieval theater can be seen
in the distance.
says with a smile, “It’s a big, grand
theater, just in miniature!”
Top: the theater's interior.
Bottom: the foyer of the
Paglioncini, a middle aged woman
with a huge smile, knows everything there is to know about
the Teatro di Cagli. She sits behind a huge desk
in her office in city hall. There are stacks of paper everywhere,
causing her to practically disappear in the small office.
Her phone rings off the hook, and every five minutes or
so, someone new knocks on her door with questions for her
to answer. Despite the chaotic atmosphere, the office runs
like a well-oiled machine.
Her face lights up with pride whenever the Teatro is
mentioned. She can back up her love for the theater too,
pointing out the old chandelier, the large stage, the theater
bar, and the countless other distinguishable features it
has to offer.
“Basically,” she says with a smile, “It’s
a big, grand theater, just in miniature!”
Literally translated, brevi residenze
means "short residence." The program has
helped put Cagli on the map. Only one other theater in Italy
hosts something like this—the Teatro Petrella
di Longiano, where Pascucci first brought his idea
for the Cagli version to life. He saw its success there
and decided to replicate it in Cagli.
Before Pascucci’s arrival to Cagli, the theater had
been closed for fifteen years. Extensive renovations were
made, and new electricity, heat, and equipment, were updated
to prevent fire hazards. The theater opened again in 1999,
and Pascucci brought his idea to life right away.
“The performers in the program
use the theater to get everything they need,” Paglioncini
said. “They stay in Cagli for as long as they like,
and they have the theater 24 hours a day. They do the anteprima,
the first show, here in Cagli. After that, they leave.”
In the past six years,
the theater has hosted many famous performers. Among them
are famed singers Gianni Marandi, Fiorella Mannola, and
the comedian Fiorello.
A slightly lesser known band, Tuxedomoon,
described their experiences in the brevi residenze program
in their online journal.
“We had an opportunity to get
together in Cagli, Italy, as the guests of the renowned
Sandro Pascucci…we had two and a half months, from
July to September, to compose and record new music, all
on the house. The house in this case was another stunning
theater, complete with trompe l’oeil frescoes on the
ceiling and a piazza full of lovely young things to ogle,”
wrote the band’s lead singer.
The performers aren’t the only
ones who enjoy their time at the Teatro. The residents of
Cagli, as well as those from the surrounding towns, always
look forward to the shows.
“The program is obviously well-respected in town,”
said Paglioncini. “It’s a way to let Cagli be
known to everybody, and to have a famous person here is,
of course, interesting and nice…. The theater is always
packed on opening night!”
In addition, the program benefits the area economically
— one of the director’s main motives for bringing
the program to Cagli.
It’s great from the restaurant end, from the hotel
end, and from the bar end because it brings money to them,”
This isn’t even including the money that’s drawn
in from the crowds of locals who flock to the theater to
see their favorite performers.
The Teatro di Cagli
had a long history before the program was even established.
Before the large coral building that stands near the center
of town was built, there was another theater in a different
part of Cagli. The old building needed renovations, though,
and the town instead decided to build a new and improved
theater. The theater that stands today was built in 1878,
and the old building is now used for offices and a gym.
Antonio Albanese, an Italian comedian famous for his work
on the stage as well as the big screen, will rehearse and
perform in Cagli this summer. Also, in the fall, an opera
company is arriving
These performers will not be coming back for performances
But for a few months, this tiny mountain town provides them
with the perfect escape to rehearse in a small atmosphere.
And for a few nights, the chandelier will be lit, the red
curtain will rise, and the residents of Cagli will get to
sit front row while the stars perform.
Cagli Project 2005
by Claire Hoffman
by Brady Fitzgerald
by Philippa Petronius
Design by Meredith Hope
“The program is obviously well-respected
in town,” said Paglioncini. “It’s
a way to let Cagli be known to everybody.”
and below: Il Teatro di Cagli
click to view the movie