Teatro di San Carlo

Theatre in Naples

Teatro San Carlo Naples
Public Domain / Sony photographer

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy, known simply as Teatro San Carlo, is a historic opera house adjacent to the Royal Palace and Piazza del Plebiscito. It is recognized as the world’s oldest continuously active opera venue, having been established in 1737, predating other famous opera houses such as Milan’s La Scala and Venice’s La Fenice.

History and Significance of Teatro di San Carlo

Originally commissioned by King Charles VII of Bourbon, Teatro San Carlo replaced the older and smaller Teatro San Bartolomeo. It was inaugurated with Domenico Sarro’s opera “Achille in Sciro.” The theater, designed by architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano, featured a traditional horseshoe-shaped auditorium and was the largest opera house in the world at the time, celebrated for its splendid architecture and acoustics.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Teatro San Carlo was a beacon of Neapolitan opera, hosting works by prominent composers such as Gluck, Johann Christian Bach, and later, Giuseppe Verdi. Under the management of Domenico Barbaia from 1809 to 1841, the opera house became known for its lavish productions and attracted leading singers of the day.

Challenges and Restoration of Teatro di San Carlo

The theater experienced significant challenges, including a devastating fire in 1816 which led to a quick rebuild by architect Antonio Niccolini, reinstating it as a major cultural venue. In the late 19th century, despite the shift of Italy’s musical epicenter to Milan, Teatro San Carlo continued to thrive under the influence of composers like Giacomo Puccini and the verismo school.

The modern era saw extensive renovations to update the aging infrastructure and improve visitor facilities. A major renovation in 2008-2009 restored much of its historical grandeur and upgraded stage machinery, allowing the opera house to continue its legacy.

Today, Teatro San Carlo remains a vital part of Naples’ cultural landscape, offering a rich opera season and serving as a testament to the city’s historical significance in the arts.

The Teatro di San Carlo appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Naples!

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Visiting Teatro di San Carlo


Guided tours: Monday to Saturday (excluding holidays): 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm.


Adults: € 9 (£ 7.70). Young people under 30/seniors over 60: € 7 (£ 6). Children under 10 years old: € 4 (£ 3.40).

Address: Teatro di San Carlo, Via San Carlo, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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