In 1736 theatre-loving King Charles VII of Naples and Sicily took a long look at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples and was not impressed by what he saw. By then in its 116th year and somewhat worse for wear, the building was sorely in need of a refresh or, even better, a replacement.
The king decided that this dilapidated building simply wouldn't do as the flagship arts venue of the city and summoned architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano to design and build a new theatre. The brief was simple, the theatre must stand in the heart of Naples, directly adjoining the Royal Palace, and be a beacon for the arts.
Medrano worked alongside artistic director Angelo Carasale to design the new structure, the two men envisioning a building of unparalelled theatricality with a capacity of over 3000, in all senses fit for a king. The project was to cost 75,000 ducats and building began in early 1737. In a testament to the vision, skill and efficiency of the builders, the Teatro di San Carlo was completed in just seven months and the inaugural performance took place on 4th November 1737, with a production of Achille in Sciro, by Domenico Sarro and featuring the first female soprano, Anna Peruzzi, in a lead role.
The show was a magnificent spectacle and the most illustrious names in Italy were in attendance, leaving the King a most pleased monarch. The theatre hosted some of the legendary names in opera before its interior was destroyed by fire in 1816. Redesigned and rebuilt within the year, Teatro di San Carlo stands to this day, its halls ringing to the sound of the greatest operatic compositions the world has known.