Pillole di Passione
di Paola Giunti
The foyer of a theatre is the area outside the auditorium where audiences can congregate before performances, during intermissions and after performances. Inside the Teatro Regio di Torino, this zone is an open space without divisions by floor, distributed on three levels. In his design, Carlo Mollino resolved the problem of the relationship with the previous architecture of Alfieri and Castellamonte by keeping the buildings adjacent to the Theatre in view. The Foyer is composed of different areas and is characterised by visible architectural elements and by the predominance of the colour red. It extends over 4,000 sq m, allowing the public to move comfortably in the available space.
The main entrance consists of a series of twelve double doors in burnished crystal, separated by granite partitions but connected visually by a sequence of elliptic openings. The solution, defined as comb-like, allows for an orderly distribution of the public as it enters the building.
A precise architectural choice identified Sardinian granite as having the best coloration to be placed alongside the green Roya stone.
Facing the main entrance, the cloakroom is constituted by a fan-shaped counter that is 30 metres in length so as to allow the public to spread out and to facilitate rapid service. At the sides of the cloakroom are two elliptic-shaped rooms where a closed-circuit television permits the viewing of the performance for the benefit of any latecomers.
The chandeliers in the foyer, with their pattern repeated outside the Theatre, were designed, like all the architectural and decorative details, by Mollino himself. They are made up of illuminated globes arranged in clusters of various dimensions, similar in style to the illumination of nineteenth-century opera houses. The globes, distributed around the foyer, thus create lighting composizions of different shapes which are also found in pairs in the auditorium, near each box.
Two staircases intertwine in a spiral around a central body enclosing the lifts; another two staircases branch out at the ends of the foyer along the perimeter of the auditorium and lead to the entrances to the boxes, the two higher entrances to the auditorium and the floor where the bars are located.
The four staircases rest on exposed concrete structures jutting from the perimetrical cylindroid of the auditorium, and mirror the structure of the boxes. To these two pairs of staircases are added the two symmetrical escalators overlooking the Galleria Tamagno.
At a height of 7 metres, two passageway with walls of crystal connect both physically and symbolically the modern building with the old one. On the passageways there are two bars with elliptic-shaped marble counters. This is the best view point to enjoy at the same time the architecture of the State Archive designed by Castellamonte and the inside of the wing of Palazzo Alfieri.
The Foyer del Toro is a large hall – created inside the Palazzina Alfieri – that owes its name to the large marble mosaic representing a stylised rampant bull, the symbol of the city. This hall, the total area of which is 750 sq m, looks out on both Piazza Castello and the new building through a play of windows and mirrors, made even more seductive by the elegant illumination of globes. The false ceiling is created by a metallic grid containing a series of illuminating bodies.
The Sala Maria Callas is located close to the Foyer del Toro and is the junction of the old branch of Palazzo Reale with the State Archive. It was formerly called the Sala del Caminetto to signal the presence of an old marble hearth, a rare relic of the former Theatre, where the royal box was situated, saved from the fire of 1936. The hall, which can hold up to 150 people, hosts conferences and didactic activities.
The ceiling of the Foyer appears as a succession of geometric shapes in exposed concrete, bent and creased in conformity with polyhedral shapes that give load-bearing capacity and rigidity to the structure.
The large windows in crystal allow for maximum use of the natural light and a reciprocal exchange of internal-external perspective, enabling one to view the architecture facing the Theatre, in particular the State Archive, designed by Filippo Juvarra, on the side of the Piazzetta Mollino. The movement lent to those surfaces frees the rigid layout of a narrow passage that would have been created with the parallel walls of the adjacent buildings.