Originally called the New Ducal Theatre, the Teatro Regio in Parma was built at the behest of the Duchess Maria Luigia of Habsburg-Lorraine, wife of Napoleon, who was sent to govern the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla following the Congress of Vienna. Work began in 1821 on a project by the court architect Nicola Bettoli and the Theatre opened on 16thMay 1829 with Zaira by Vincenzo Bellini with a libretto by Felice Romani. Built in the neo-classical style, the façade is characterized by a colonnade with ionic capitals with a large thermal window above.
Originally the Theatre was destined for various types of spectacle, from opera to dance, from poetic declamation to the most diverse art forms; funambulism, gymnastics, acts with animals, scientific demonstrations, illusionism and displays of ‘curiosities’. Right from its inauguration, the Theatre has born witness and been a protagonist of the crucial changes which affected melodrama during the XIX and XX centuries, from the end of the period of Rossini to the triumph of the Verdi repertoire, to appreciation of the French and German experience, to the extreme evolution in terms of realism of Italian opera with Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Puccini.