The Sena Theatre
The Sena Theatre (the name derives from the word “scene”), is contained within the Palazzo della Ragione, the construction of which began in 1510 after the destruction of the previous building by the troops of Emperor Maximilian. The building includes a Palladian loggia of 1558. The hall, which was originally used for meetings of the Maggior Consiglio (the Great Council), became a theatre in 1684 when the Teatro Sociale was set up. It contained two galleries of boxes, privately owned by the noble families of the town. Earlier, in 1621, it had held a “…scene for the acting of Carnival comedies”. In the early 18th century the theatre was in constant use, and in 1729 two plays by Carlo Goldoni, “Il Buon Padre” and “La Cantatrice”, were produced. In 1741 a third gallery of boxes was added. On 26th July 1769, the theatre was struck by lightning during a performance causing the death of five people, dozens of wounded and structural damage. In the following years the theatre was used only sporadically. In 1802, the Venetian architect Gianantonio Selva, who had recently won the competition to design the Fenice Theatre in Venice, undertook the complete renovation of the theatre. The interior decoration, notably the curtain and the ceiling, was executed in 1843 by Tranquillo Orsi, who, in 1837, had produced the neoclassical decoration of the Fenice.
The theatre was closed in 1929 because it did not meet modern safety standards. After a campaign by Italia Nostra, restoration work was begun in 1971, and continued sporadically until the 1990s. Work is now almost complete thanks to an agreement signed in 2000 between the town of Feltre and the authorities for Historic Buildings and Landscape of the Provinces of Venice, Padua, Belluno and Treviso. Today, the Sena Theatre offers us an opportunity to revisit the world of the Fenice Theatre before the disastrous fire of 1996.