Teatro Massimo’s Gilded Echo Chamber

Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s opera house that opened in 1897, is a master work of Greek and Roman inspired architecture designed by Giovan Battista Filippo Basile (1825-1891). The interior frescoes of the theater were painted by artists Rocco Lentini, Ettore De Maria Bergler, Michele Cortegiani, and Luigi Di Giovanni, who likely brushed this detail I photographed of the ceiling of the Pompeian Room, also called the Rotonda of the Mezzogiorno. 
Known affectionately as the Echo Hall, this gilded age space is a nod to the the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Because of its circular shape, as you approach the center of the room and make sounds, your voice reverberates with an echo throughout the chamber. Furthermore, the images pictured (and those not) are packed with symbolism: from the seven-pointed star in the skylight (representing the Goddess Venus) and the 14 petals surrounding it to the 28 medallions of men’s and women’s busts and 14 doors–all based on the mystical number seven. When you take a guided tour of the opera house (or have a few minutes to explore it at intermission), you’ll have the opportunity to see how your voice carries.

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