The “Ioan Slavici” Theatre

1874 / 103 Revolution Boulevard / Historical monument

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The building of „Ioan Slavici” Classical Theatre of Arad is located in the middle of Revolution Boulevard. Numerous cultural and artistic events take place here, besides the theatrical seasons of the local theatre company.

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History

The imposing building was built in the XIX-th century, after the Austro-Hungarian agreement had brought up the question of a new, bigger theatre in Arad. Thus, at the beginning of 1870, the city’s governance decided to make a loan of 700,000 florins from a bank in Vienna, for the construction of two new buildings: the theatre and the city hall.

The project of the theatre building was drafted by architect Skalniczky of Pesta, while the internal architecture project belongs to Gyorgy Bako, the building’s construction being completed by entrepreneurs from Arad. The construction works started in 1872 and ended in 1874, the year when the first shows took place in the new theatre.

The hall counted three floors, a gallery and 92 loggias. The ground floor summed up 276 seats and 150 standing places, the first and second floors consisted of loggias only, while the third floor had a balcony with 72 seats and a gallery of 170 seats. The total capacity of the hall was of 1,250 seats. Artists and craftsmen from Vienna, Budapest and Arad crafted the ornamentation of the hall.

The lighting was made through a chandelier with 36 arms, resembling the one of the Opera House in Vienna, and the ground floor was gas lit. Gas was also the main reason behind the fire which almost burnt down the entire edifice, due to a malfuntion in the lighting system, in 18th of February 1883.

The City Council decided to rebuild the theatre on its previous site, by using parts of the building which survived the fire. From 1874 until the First World War, the theatre hosted numerous theatre shows, supported by local theatre associations and also by renowned, well established companies.

Over the years, many changes were brought to the interior of the edifice. In 1948, the authorities decided upon the construction of a professional entertainment institution, called “The Romanian State Theatre of Arad”, switched with “Arad State Theatre”, name under which the Theatre of Arad functioned until the year of 2006, when the Local Council of the County of Arad decided that the institution take its current name – The “Ioan Slavici” Classical Theatre.

In 1957, another devastating fire destroyed a great part of the building, shortly after the ample reconstruction works had ended. The local authorities have immediately allotted the funds needed for the complete reconstruction of the edifice, thus the restorative works have given the theatre its present shape.

Architecture

The main entrance of the Neo-Classical edifice is situated in the axis of the boulevard, emphasized by columns supporting a gable decorated with a bas-relief. The neo-classical façade was designed by architect Miloş Cristea from Arad. In between the six columns, three muses were supposed to be placed.

Interesting facts

During the period following the Revolution of 1848, the theatre was rented by the landowner of Macea, Petar Cernovici, in exchange for a rent paid to the city. By revenge against the retaliation of Austrian troupes, he wouldn’t allow German theatre performances on this stage, giving his permission only to Hungarian ones.

Around the end of the 1860’s, the company run by Matei Millo and M. Pascaly played here. The prompter of the Pascaly company, in the year of 1868, was Mihai Eminescu, the most prominent Romanian poet.

Summary

  • The first who raised the question of building another theatre, due to the increased interest in theatre manifested by the citizens of Arad, was Baron Bela Banhidy.
  • In early 1870, the leaders of the city decided to contract 700,000 florins to build the theatre and the city hall.
  • The building was built and inaugurated in 1872.
  • On February 18th 1883, due to a malfunction in the gas lighting, the theatre building burned down almost entirely.
  • After the fire, the City Council decided to rebuild the theatre on the old site, using different parts of the building which had survived the fire.
  • Since the year of 2006, the institution goes by its current name – “Ioan Slavici” Classical Theatre.

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