© Fondazione teatro comunale di Bologna

Name of Object:

Model of the Bologna Municipal Opera Theatre


Bologna, Italy

Holding Museum:

Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica



Type of object:

Woodwork, architectural model


Giovanni Battista Martorelli and Antonio Gambarini

Period of activity:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Sculpted, painted and gilded wood

Place of production:



95x195x168 cm


Town Hall (?)


This model is the faithful representation of the original project by Antonio Bibiena for the Municipal Opera Theatre of Bologna. It accurately documents the architectural structure and decorative elements of the interior. It is very important because most of these decorations were lost during the XIX century restyling.
The longitudinal section of the model shows the large stall, the stage, its architectural frame and 4 tiers of boxes as well as the gallery. Tiers of separated boxes all around the hall were an original feature of the Bibiena design specifically meant for the baroque opera theatres. This feature was adopted in the most important European theatres.
The three “architectural orders” employed on the different tiers reflect the Bolognese sober academic tradition in architecture. Wooden models like this one were made by craftsmen or sculptors following the drawings of the architect. This was common for important buildings, public monuments or cathedrals, since the Renaissance period.
About 10 years later the theatre was finally opened to the public on the 14th of May 1763 with the representation of The Triumph of Clelia by C.W. Gluck.

View Short Description

Current Owner:

Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica

Original Owner:

The Municipal theatre and its wooden model were commissioned by the Municipality of Bologna (Comune di Bologna)

How date and origin were established:


Selected bibliography:

Bergamini, W. “Antonio Galli Bibiena. Nuovo teatro pubblico di Bologna 1755-1763”, L'arte del Settecento emiliano. Architettura, scenografia, pittura di paesaggio (exhibition catatlogue) (ed. A. M. Matteucci), Bologna, 1979, pp. 122-123, n. 180.

Citation of this web page:

Marta Forlai "Model of the Bologna Municipal Opera Theatre" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;it;Mus12_D;39;en&id=theatre

Prepared by: Marta ForlaiMarta Forlai

NAME: Marta

AFFILIATION Fondazione Federico Zeri, University of Bologna

TITLE associate project manager (?)

Graduated and specialized in History of Art at the University of Bologna. She is a specialist in the history of Bolognese architecture. She worked for the Musei Civici d’Arte Antica in Bologna. At present she is doing research, taking care of the photographic archive and organizing exhibitions for the Fondazione Federico Zeri at the University of Bologna.

Translation copyedited by: Lisa Kelman

MWNF Working Number: IT2 43