The Gaetano Donizetti Theatre, founded in 1786 with the name Riccardi (in honour of the man that built it), is dedicated to the great composer from Bergamo. Built in the lower part of the city (in the heart of the district with an urban layout designed in the early 20th century by Marcello Piacentini), it still retains its 18th-century layout, although its facade wasn't completed until 1898, with the addition of a side foyer in the 1990s.
The Donizetti Theatre was the city's first masonry theatre and one of the first in all of Italy (other than the Scala, almost all the others at the time were made of wood - the last two decades of the 18th century – when the Donizetti was built). Furthermore, it is one of the largest concert halls on the Italian peninsula.
The Donizetti Theatre has always been renowned for its opera productions, earning its reputation as one of the most exclusive traditional opera houses. In addition to the Bergamo Music Festival - Opera and Ballet Season, the Donizetti hosts Altri Percorsi (a well-established and highly popular season of contemporary theatre) and numerous other events including the Bergamo Jazz Festival and the operetta season. Another initiative held at the city's largest theatre is the prestigious Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival of Brescia and Bergamo organised by the piano festival board.
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