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The Tauromenium Theatre (Modern Taormina), Sicily, Italy:

The Ancient theatre of Taormina ("Teatro antico di Taormina" in Italian) is an ancient Greek theatre in Taormina, southern Italy, built in the third century BCE.

The ancient theatre (the teatro greco, or "Greek theatre") is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; whence it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. With a diameter of 120 metres (390 ft) (after an expansion in the 2nd century), this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse); it is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. The greater part of the original seats have disappeared, but the wall which surrounded the whole cavea is preserved, and the proscenium with the back wall of the scena and its appendages, of which only traces remain in most ancient theatres, are here preserved in singular integrity, and contribute much to the picturesque effect, as well as to the interest, of the ruin. From the fragments of architectural decorations still extant we learn that it was of the Corinthian order, and richly ornamented. Some portions of a temple are also visible, converted into the church of San Pancrazio, but the edifice is of small size.

Source: Ancient theatre of Taormina. (2017, October 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:38, January 10, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ancient_theatre_of_Taormina&oldid=806615417


The archaeological data on the Hellenistic phase of the theatre of Taormina are very few: It had to have a cavea with convergent analèmmata, with nine wedges smaller than the current one. This is due to the presence of the remains of a Hellenistic sanctuary at the top of the cavea, subsequently occupied by the outer ambulacrum added to the theatre in the reconstruction of the imperial age. The cavea was built using the rocky outcrop to carve the steps, and in part using the local stone blocks to get the steps where the rock was missing: with this regard, there are some rock seats, with paleographic characters of III sec. B.C.The theatre of Taormina can be considered one of the oldest of the Magna Grecia and Sicilian theatres with curved cavea, not trapezoidal as in the older ones also dating back to the III sec. A.D.

According to the history of the studies, the currently visible building is considered to be the result of a grandiose reconstruction of the imperial age, occurred in the Trajan-Adrian age.

After this complete reconstruction, another major step was the renovation of the sceana and the orchestra and their transformation into arena. These changes, in addition to a great change of the inner ambulacrum connected to the porticus in summa cavea, are attributed to the Severian age. The architectural elements of this phase dating back to the beginning of the III century are some capitals and part of the trabeation created for the scaenae frons during the transformation of the orchestra in arena. The dating is also supported by the tradition of the III century, well documented in Asia Minor, to adapt theatres to the gladiatorial games and venationes with the typical characteristics of amphitheatres: a signal of a popular interest in games rather than for the cultural representations. The Trajan-Adrian reconstruction had led to a spectacular use of white marbles and colored stones for the columns and coatings of scaenae frons and orchestra and a great enlargement of the cavea that covered the small Hellenistic temple (the ruins are still visible) on the top of the mountain. The new cavea, which could contain between 8.900 and 11.150 observers, held roughly the horseshoe shape of Hellenistic tradition, to which was added a double ambulacrum of crowning: the outer one with 47 arches framed by pillars on the facade, the inner one made up of a porticus that housed the steps of the summa cavea (maybe in wood because of its lack of traces on the northern wall to which they had to bend) supported by a crypt underneath. Towards the praecinctio the crypt had a wall high 2,60 m which also formed the podium on which colonnade used to lay on the upper porticus.

The cavea, divided into nine wedges and three maeniani, with tribunales above the parodoi outlets, reached a maximum diameter of 107 m, and the orchestra of 28.94 m (translatable with a slight approximation of 360 and 100 feet). Two large basilicae or versurae connected directly to the parascaenia flanked the building of the scaenae, which had the porticus post scaenam on the back. The basilicae (the western one of 12 x 16.5 m and the eastern one of 10.5 x 16 m) had internal walls articulated in niches and formed two large halls.

Source: A new contribution for the reconstructive study of the theatre of Taormina F Gabellone, I Ferrari, F Giuri - researchgate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Francesco_Gabellone/publication/320651265_A_new_contribution_for_the_reconstructive_study_of_the_theatre_of_Taormina/links/59f32273a6fdcc075ec18219/A-new-contribution-for-the-reconstructive-study-of-the-theatre-of-Taormina.pdf

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Copyright © 2003 Thomas G. Hines, Department of Theatre, Whitman College. All Rights Reserved. The Ancient Theatre Archive is a non-profit, educational project, located at Whitman College, USA. Research and Publication Partially Funded Through Grants from Whitman College, The United States Institute for Theatre Technology, The Benson Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Humanities.
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