Two theaters are about to die in Rome. Salone Margherita and Teatro dell'Angelo are closing.

Rome is about to lose two theaters. The Salone Margherita and Teatro dell'Angelo, landmarks of culture in the city, are closing.

Rome will soon have to do without two of its theaters: in fact, the Salone Margherita and the Teatro dell’Angelo are about to close their doors. The former, the historic theater on Via Due Macelli, which opened in 1898 and was made famous by the very famous variety and cabaret shows (especially those of the Bagaglino company) that have always been held there, had its curtain come down for good last Sept. 30, due to the coronavirus crisis and pressure from the Bank of Italy, the building’s owner, which had long been lobbying the Cinema teatrale Marino & C. company, founded in 1920 and which has always been the concessionaire for the management of theater activities: in fact, the Bank would like to sell the building.

“It is really no longer possible to continue in this context,” the company’s owner, Nevio Schiavone, told Ansa. “In addition to the continuous pressure from the Institute of Via Nazionale, which has been pressing for 2 years to get the theater back for the purpose of selling it and therefore has not granted us the renewal of the lease, the tragedy of the pandemic has been added. We leave aware and proud of having breathed new life into the Salone these past eight years and in the knowledge that in any case Bankitalia will maintain the theater as a jewel and bring it to life by granting it to productions with transitional contracts, while waiting for a buyer who has never yet made himself known even though it has been on sale for more than 10 years. On the contrary, we are applying as of now to be able to continue offering our audiences every year the shows conceived written and directed by maestro Pier Francesco Pingitore.” The director, for his part, says that “the mere thought that the Margherita might not reopen seems inconceivable to me. It would be a serious offense to culture, entertainment, and the sensitivity of the spectators. An institution such as the Bank of Italy cannot, and certainly will not want to, close in the face of the public the doors of a place so dear and beloved, set with its architectural and decorative splendor in the living body of Rome.”

Several appeals to not let the Salone Margherita die, starting with the one launched by soubrette Valeria Marini: “Do not let the Salone Margherita die,” she declared, “an Art Nouveau jewel, unique in Europe, the theater that has hosted shows attended by millions of people. An icon, a place of worship. It must continue to exist. Thanks to Minister Franceschini, the Salone Margherita can continue to be used only for theatrical performances and cannot have any other ’intended use.’ I hope that the Bank of Italy, the current owner, will put its hand on its heart, to find together, I repeat, a way to reopen the Bagaglino.” The showgirl is also joined by comedian Fabrizio Maturani, aka Martufello, who says he is “certain that the Salon cannot be taken away from the Roman public, nor banned from the artists who have kept it alive for so many seasons. Let the Bank of Italy do those works that certainly serve the decorum of the Theater. But then manage it by allowing theater companies, primarily ours, to do their work there. And by requiring the eventual buyer to maintain the theatrical use of the premises.”

An even more ominous fate is that of the Teatro dell’Angelo, opened in 1995 (the inaugural performance was by Vittorio Gassmann) in the Prati district, the strength of a popular and well-attended prose season capable of always attracting big names, and of a theater school with courses even for children. The theater has been closed for months, and there are works in progress, resumed after the end of the lockdown: from the signs installed on the construction site, it appears that the theater is destined to be turned into a supermarket (the company that owns the building, Menni srl, owns several well-known supermarkets). Activities ceased with the 2017/2018 season: in fact, the theater was no longer able to meet the costs of rent. A petition had also been launched to prevent the theater’s closure.

The case is being taken up by Codacons, which may initiate a battle to save the theater. Although the chances are very slim.

In the photo: the Salone Margherita

Two theaters are about to die in Rome. Salone Margherita and Teatro dell'Angelo are closing.
Two theaters are about to die in Rome. Salone Margherita and Teatro dell'Angelo are closing.

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