3.1 Neo-classical architecture

Jousting race in Torino on 21 February 1839 during the passage of His Imperial and Royal Highness Alexander, Grand Duke Imperial Hereditary Prince of Russia, Torino The programme of architectural renewal with which Carlo Alberto intended to give his own imprint to the Savoy capital could not ignore the Teatro of the crown: the restructuring of the auditorium was entrusted to the architect Ernesto Melano and the Bolognese painter Pelagio Palagi, also active at the building sites of Palazzo Reale, the Biblioteca Reale and Castello di Racconigi.

As is evident from the picture taken when Grand Duke Alexander of Russia visited (1839), the Teatro had assumed an austere Neo-classical imprint, with the elimination of the Baroque curves and the use of Corinthian columns.

3.2 Giuditta Pasta and Adelina Patti

Gariboldi, Portrait of Adelina PattiGiuditta Pasta, one of the most celebrated singers of the early nineteenth century, debuted in Milan in 1815 and soon made a name for herself in other Italian cities, in Paris and in London. Adored by Stendhal, she was the leading lady in the “premières” of Sonnambula, Norma and Beatrice di Tenda by Bellini and Anna Bolena by Donizetti. After her debut at the Teatro Carignano in 1820, she returned to Torino for the 1821-22 season of the Regio, where she met with enormous success in I riti d’Efeso by Giuseppe Farinelli and Rossini’s Edoardo e Cristina. In the second half of the nineteenth century, after the theatre programmes were amplified, the singers were no longer signed on for the entire season but for individual operas instead.

In 1865, the Regio audience had the opportunity to hear Adelina Patti, the diva par excellence in the world of opera, in four out-of-season performances of Bellini’s Sonnambula and Rossini's Barbiere di Siviglia. She would then return to Torino in 1879 for Traviata. Verdi had appreciated her two years earlier describing her this way: «marvellous voice, very pure singing style; stupendous actress with a charm and a natural???... that nobody else has».

3.3 Polledro and Mercadante

Portrait of Giovanni Battista PolledroUnder Carlo Felice there was a reorganization of the Royal Chapel, which provided most of the instrumentalists for the Teatro orchestra. Giovanni Battista Polledro (1823), Pugnani’s student and a celebrated virtuoso, was named first violin, a position he had already held in Dresden.

In Torino, Polledro improved the level of the orchestra and introduced the great compositions of instrumental music by the composers of Viennese classicism, acquiring a number of scores by German editors for the Royal Chapel.

In the same years, Saverio Mercadante, who was trained in Naples, started his international career with the success of Elisa e Claudio, presented in Milan in 1821. He was the only major composer of the time to have a privileged rapport with the Regio of Torino, where he presented in absolute “première” Didone abbandonata (1823), Nitocri (1824), Ezio (1827), I Normanni a Parigi (1832), Francesca Donato, ovvero Corinto distrutta (1835), Il reggente (1843) and six other operas that had already been staged in other theatres.

3.4 The romantic ballet

Anonymous, Portrait of Maria TaglioniThe principal exponents of romantic ballet were guests at the Regio in the 1830s and 1840s: Fanny Cerrito debuted at the Regio in the 1835-36 season and returned there ten years later, after great success in the major European capitals. Natalie Fitz-James and Arthur Saint-Léon danced together in the Italian “première” of Giselle (1842). In January 1845 the Torinese audience applauded the “divine” Maria Taglioni, creator of La Sylphide and symbol of the romantic ballerina, who interpreted L’allieva d’Amore, ballet presented with Bellini’s Norma. Attention for the dance was also evidenced by the restructuring of the dance school commissioned by Carlo Alberto in 1846. Thanks to the new involvement of the crown, the school proved to be one of the most prestigious in Italy, alongside those in Milan and Naples.