Progress report
The first theatre (1637)

We are pleased to publish the first draft plans for the reconstruction of the Teatro San Cassiano of 1637.


  • 153 boxes over five tiers with 31 boxes
  • 29 boxes in the pepiano (first tier) with two side exits
  • 31 boxes in the four tiers above (primo, secondo, terzo and quarto ordine)
  • Two proscenium boxes either side of the stage on every tier
  • Seven-winged scene sets


After much research and effort, we are pleased to publish the first draft plans for the reconstruction of the Teatro San Cassiano of 1637. The plans are a work-in-progress and only serve to mark the beginning of the process. They will change again and again as our research and consultations evolve. They are also strictly limited to setting out the basic plan and do not extend to reflect ongoing research or more the intimate details of the theatre’s construction. This will be shared in due course. Instead, they mark an historic moment in that (to the best of our knowledge) they represent the first academically produced visualisation of how the Teatro San Cassiano might have looked in 1637. We say ‘might’ because currently we have more questions than answers, but that is the joy of the research for such a process. These plans, together with a summary of our research, will now be shared with our consiglieri and their feedback will inform our next steps. We shall keep you fully posted...



Currently, our research suggests that from 1637 onwards the Teatro San Cassiano maintained a five-tier, 153-box structure (with some fluctuation) until in 1763 a final 197-box, six-tiered theatre was built (32 boxes in the pepiano plus five tiers of 33). There is no current documentation to suggest that the stage area and layout did not remain broadly the same until the stage (and not the auditorium) was enlarged in 1763. At this point, the auditorium squeezed in another two boxes, and added a further tier, but it was the increase in stage size that pushed the theatre forward and required the purchase of additional land along the Rio de la Madoneta.

Identifying the number of boxes is one thing, verifying the shape of the auditorium is another. By good fortune, the architect (Francesco Bognolo) recorded the measurements of a number of Venetian theatres including both the old and new Teatro San Cassiano. This gave us the measurements of two versions of theatre (from c.1695 and from 1763—an unrealised first draft), with the former being the model built directly after our 1637 theatre. With the help of our reconstruction architect (Jon Greenfield, Hamson Barron Smith), we then plotted the old theatre as of 1695. This resulted in depicting a typical horseshoe shape well established in the late 17th century.



We also plotted the theatre according to the ‘U’-shaped theatre generally associated with the earlier seventeenth-century. Our research suggests that these theatres essentially follow the Roman theatre model, but with extended sides to allow for the placement of the orchestra and ‘busa’ (a pit separating the orchestra from the main stalls area or platea), which thus forcibly elongated the old ‘teatri delle commedie’? This is shown here:



This model proved the basis from which we then restored the proscenium arch of the early seventeenth century to create our preferred model above.

Please feel free to download a copy of our full report to our consiglieri: