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Italian Theatres


By Hugh Denard


Alba Fucens

[These notes incorporating Karina's corrections & additions.]

Theatre in town, built up hillside, dating to end of 2nd. century B.C. - a later phase mid-1st century B.C.
Earlier theatre on other slope of same hill.  Above theatre on the same hill, tempio (tempio Pettorino) 3rd century B.C., cult? - last century i.e. 19th, visible, at north west of temple: traccia di un edificio semicirculare di notevole ampiezza (ora del tutto invisibile), si peotrebbe pensare ad un piu antico teatro.

Very few fragments now visible, namely:
    sections of orchestra (in front of proedria)
    sections of cavea retaining walls (analemmata), lower part in opus poligonalis, upper section opus reticulatum.
    fragments of scaenae frons, fossa scenico: a series of square holes for manouvring siparium.
    natural rock-face shaped to semi-circle to support cavea

(Note: the Teatri Greci e Romani entry for Alba Fucens describes the cavea as 'fairly well preserved' so there may be much hidden by merely superficial growth.)

Plan of theatre from Teatri Greci e Romani

Hillside is terraced above cavea.
Two entrances to theatre from main road; one in form of a little alleyway / ramp, the other in the form of a staircase.  Both giving access from the so-called Via dei Pilastri.
Large post-scaenam terrace enclosed by wall, behind which continued in form of some kind of porticus, to which there were two accesses and to the parodoi of the theatre: one from the main road via a ramped alleyway positioned on the axis of one of the side-entrances of the so-called sanctuary of Hercules, whereas the other one still leading up from the main road, was aligned with the facade of the so-called sanctuary of Hercules, but now in form of a staircase.

At summit of hill, set well back, is a 4th-century temple.  Probably not visible at all from even the top seats of the cavea of 2nd-century theatre, but would have been visible from earlier theatre (though temple orientation is probably neither perpendicular nor perpendicular to earlier theatre's scaenae frons).

View from media cavea towards scaenae frons.

View along media cavea maenianum showing cuts in natural rock-face to support seating.

View from media cavea towards town.

View of temple remains at summit of hill above theatre.

View from site of earlier theatre across valley away from town and theatres.

Karina: Importance for theatre of Pompey:
1. Stage of a rectilinear from early phase.
2. Some kind of porticus complex / terrace system behind the stage building.

Notes from Teatri Greci e Romani

Alba Fucens

[Author's name not legible from our photocopy]

Graeco-roman theatre.  Urban.  Facing south-west.

It was built around the mid-1st century B.C. (late 2nd B.C. according to Coarelli) with reconstructions dating to the end of the 1st century.  In the 4th century B.C. the theatre structures already supported a numer of dwellings.

The central part of the cavea rests on a natural slope, but at its extremities it is supported by the walls of the analemmata.  It was split up into three maeniana.  The upper one was added later, together with the wall bounding it externally.  the steps are cut directly into the rock.  There may have been uncovered flights of steps at the ends of the parodoi.

The orchestra was paved with slabs of coloured marble.  In front of the frons pulpiti there are small wells which are thought to have been used to control the aulaeum.  The rectilinear wall of the scaena belongs to a reconstruction. Behind the scaenae frons, the stage building is divided into seven small rooms.  There are no parascaenia or rooms.

Outside there is a vast terrace.  The analemmata are built in opus polygonalis lower down and in opus reticolatum higher up.  The pillars at the extremities are built in opus quadratum.  The walls of the stage building and the cavea's outer wall are built in opus reticolatum.  In the proscaenium, there are short sections of opus incertum.

An inscription dating to the mid-1st century A.D. describing a restoration of the scaena and other work on the building refers to the theatre.

State of preservation:
The cavea is fairly well preserved.  The plan of the stage building can be interpreted, but only the foundations survivie today.  A number of architectural fragments (marble Corinthian capitals) from the decoration of the scaenae frons have been recovered.

diameter of the cavea: 77 m.
diameter of the orchestra: 20 m.
width of the stage building: 42.50 m.
depth of the stage building: 12 m.

F. DE RUYT, J. MERTENS, Le theatre, in Les fouilles d'Alba Fucens de 1951 a 1953, Bruxelles 1955, pp.80-89.
A. NEPPI MODONA 1961, p. 110.
J. MERTENS, Alba Fucens I.  Rapports et etudes, Bruxeles 1969, pp. 76-80.
G. FORNI 1970, s.v. Teatro.
F. DE RUYT, Albe Fucens III.  Sculptures d'Alba Fucens, Bruxelles 1982, pp.145-147, 149.
F. COARELLI, A. LA REGINA, Abruzzo, Mlise, Bari 1984, pp. 87-89.
H. DEVIJVER, F. VAN WONTERGHEM, Documenti epigrafici riguardanti l'acquedotto e il teatro di Alba Fucens: gli interventi di due magistrati-benefattori nel I secolo d.C., in "ZPE" 58, 1985, pp. 163-181.
C. COURTOIS, 1989, pp.133-138, 245-248.
J. MERTENS, in "JAT", I, 1991, pp.93-112.

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