Early theatres in Naples

Theatres for diverse musical and dramatic presentations began to open in Naples, Italy, in the mid-16th century as part of the general Spanish cultural and political expansion into the kingdom of Naples, which had just become a vicerealm of Spain. None of the early theaters still function as such, having been replaced by later facilities from the mid-18th century onwards. Neapolitan theatres first built in the 16th and 17th centuries include:

Teatro della Commedia Vecchia

Built around 1550, the Commedia Vecchia was the first public theatre in Naples. It was the professional home to acting troupes from Spain "playing the provinces," and it provided a stage for the improvised antics of the masked and costumed figures in the then innovative Italian commedia dell'arte. In its heyday, the theatre was so successful that the government put a tax on their proceeds to finance the Casa dei Incurabili, a home for people with incurable diseases. The theatre was acquired in 1587 by a consortium of merchants and seamen from Genoa. It was torn down in the early 17th century and replaced by the church San Giorgio dei Genovesi, built to serve the considerable Genovese population in Naples at the time. For many years, however, the church was called "San Giorgo alla Commedia Vecchia", thus recalling its origins.[1][2][3]

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