The splendors of Naples’ renovated San Carlo Opera

San Carlo Opera, Naples, ItalyI’ve always been curious to see Naples’ Teatro San Carlo – the oldest continuously active public opera in the world.

On a recent visit to Naples, I went on a guided tour to see the recent renovations that restored this historic opera house to its former splendor.

San Carlo Opera was commissioned by the Bourbon King Carlo VII of Naples, and was inaugurated on 4 November 1737.

San Carlo Opera, Naples, ItalyIn 1816, a fire broke out in the opera house, and spread to destroy the interior. Bourbon King Ferdinand IV ordered its reconstruction – and it was rebuilt in only ten months.

During World War II, the opera house was damaged once again by bombing, but was quickly reconstructed.

The third major renovation came in 2008-2009 – a 67 million euro project that brought the opera back to its former splendor.

The San Carlo was the crown jewel of operas on the Italian peninsula through the mid-19th century. Composers in residence included Gioachino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti. Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida had its European debut (after opening in Cairo) at the San Carlo Opera.

San Carlo Opera, Naples, ItalyFollowing Italian unification in 1861, Naples lost its hold as musical capital, and La Scala in Milan began its ascent.

Forty-five minute guided tours  are offered daily, in Italian and English, and provide a good overview of the history of the theatre, and the chance to see the splendors of the renovations.

If you’re staying longer in Naples, be sure to get tickets to the opera or ballet. I’ll be doing that on my next stay in beautiful Naples.


  1. When in Naples … eat pizza! | kimberlysullivan on February 10, 2015 at 4:00 am

    […] Be sure to save space for pizza on your next trip to Naples. And for other tips on what to see in Naples, look at my earlier post on the San Carlo opera. […]

Leave a Comment