In 1814 Napoleon had the church turned into a theatre

Where it isPortoferraio - Piazza Gramsci (Via del Carmine)
Contact detailstel. 0565 944024 (Cosimo de' Medici)
Prices4 euros / 3 euros reduced
Cosmopoli Card An all inclusive ticket at the cost of 7,00 euros allows you into the following places of culture in Portoferraio: Linguella Museum, Fortresses and Forte Falcone, Vigilanti Theatre and Roman Villa in Le Grotte
Opening times9.30 - 13.00 (closed on Sundays)
Afternoon openings and on Sundays on request for groups

In 1814 Napoleon had it turned into a theatre, then in 1618, Orazio di Borbone, the then town governor, had the Carmine Church built as the nearby hospital chapel bearing the same name. Shaped like a Greek cross, it was the tallest and most elaborate church in the town of Portoferraio.

In the early 1800s it was deconsacrated and used for military purposes, thus becoming nothing more than a mere warehouse. In 1814, after having spoken to Mr Traditi, who was the mayor at the time, Napoleon had it turned into a theatre for exhibitions and special events. In order to get the money needed for the work to be carried out he put the 65 boxes in the Theatre up for sale, and this caused the "good" families of the Elba society to argue because they all wanted the best boxes so their family name could become more important.

The first ball was held on January 22nd 1815, with everybody wanting to show off their clothes and jewellery. The Theatre was run by the Fortunati Academy, that continued to organize exhibitions, parties and fancy dress balls up till the early 1900s, but when serious economic problems hit Elba (and the rest of Europe), the theatre was abandoned. In the 30s it was reopened for parties and dances until after the war when it was turned into a cinema. When the bigger and more modern Astra cinema opened, the theatre was closed down in 1952, and it remained so until 1997. After muchmeticulous renovation work it regained its former glory.

All that remains of the original church is its magnificence, the columns at the sides, and the apse, completely set under the stage. As regards the Napoleonic period all that remains is the curtain, painted by Vincenzo Antonio Revelli, (who also painted the frescoes in Napoleon's residences). The scene is a bucolic representation, where Napoleon is Apollo, god of the Arts.

Every year a detailed and colourful play bill is used to publicize the small but beautiful Napoleonic Vigilanti Theatre.

In 2015,the Portoferraio Town Council decides to dedicate the theatre to Renato Cioni, the famous tenor from Elba, also known as "The voice of Elba" who died in 2014.

Born into a family of fishermen, Renato Cioni started his career by singing at weddings in the Dome in Portoferraio. He then went on to study music at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence, and started singing opera music with other world famous tenors like Maria Callas, Renato Scotto and Tito Gobbi.

Photos Cosimo de' Medici
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Teatro dei Vigilanti

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