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Teatro Massimo                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

The Theatre Massimo Vittorio Emanuele of Palermo is the opera house located in Palermo. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe (the third after the Opéra National de Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna), renowned for its perfect acoustics.

An international competition for the creation of the opera house was announced by the Palermo Council in 1864, primarily at the instigation of the mayor, Antonio Starrabba di Rudinì. For many years there had been talk of building a big new theatre in Palermo, worthy of the second biggest city in southern Italy (after Naples) and designed to promote the image of the city following the recent national unity.

The opera house was designed and overseen by the very genial Italian architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile and, following his death in 1891, construction was then overseen by his highly artistic son, Architect Ernesto Basile. G. B. Filippo Basile was well known in Sicily also for his previous cathedral restoration design in the city of Acireale, as well as garden and villa designs in the city of Palermo and Caltagirone.

The construction started on 12 January 1874 but was stopped for eight years from 1882 until 1890. Finally, on 16 May 1897, twenty-two years after the laying of the foundation stone, the third largest opera theatre, after Palais Garnier in Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna, was inaugurated with a performance of Verdi's Falstaff conducted by Leopoldo Mugnone.

Curiosity: In 1990, the theater was the setting for some scenes of the movie The Godfather-Part III by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino, Andy Garcia and Sofia Coppola, where Michael Corleone (The Godfather) went to Palermo to witness the debut of his son in Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni.


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