25 February, Corriere della Sera
There is a new attempt by Banca d’Italia to sell the theatre Salone Margherita, a few steps away from Piazza di Spagna in Rome. In the last few months, the bank decided to lower the price: 10 million euro. The lease contract to Nevio Schiavone has not been renewed. The entrepreneur took over the theatre 3 years ago and invested for the relaunch, reaching an audience of 30 thousand people.
Banca d’Italia has been trying to get rid of this liberty-style jewel since a long time. In 2007 it was put on auction for 15 million, but the auction got inquorate. The banks tried it again in 2010 and last July, this time without the assistance of any real estate advisor.
The theatre started in 1898 as Cafè Chantant, a place to meet before and after the shows. It was the symbol of the glorious life in the Capital hosting shows of Marinetti, Ettore Petrolini, Lina Cavalieri, Totò, Aldo Fabrizi and Oreste Lionello. In the Seventies, Salone Margherita was bought by the company Castellacci and it hosted for many years the satire of Bagaglino. Now the theatre risks to close and how it will be used is still not clear, even though Banca d’Italia included a clause to prohibit the change of function.
Many have spoken in defence of one of the few theatres still surviving in Rome, from Vittorio Sgarbi to Philippe Daverio and Vittorio Emiliani. The fear is that the potential investor who will invest such a significant amount will not be happy just with the earning originated by the theatre activity. Just like it happened with the cinema Etoile in Piazza Lucina, now occupied by a luxury brand, it may stay closed for many years and then reopen as a commercial space.
Philippe Daverio calls for the direct intervention of Mibact, “to protect the theatre as historical heritage, its architecture and furniture included”, accusing Banca d’Italia “of having acted only for economic purposes”. In the meanwhile, 5 thousand signatures were collected on the platform Change by the blogger Stefano Moline and submitted to the Banca d’Italia Governor, Ignazio Visco, the Minister of Culture Franceschini and the Mayor of Rome Raggi. Yesterday, the political party Fratelli d’Italia announced “a motion to protect this historical place. Hence, we ask the Mayor Raggi and her administration to intervene against the sale of the theatre”. The memo concludes, “it’s necessary to take an action in order to stop this systematic aggression of old towns, that cancel the cultural function of such establishments”.
Source: Corriere della Sera
Translator: Cristina Ambrosi