History of the Asolo Theater
It has come across the sea to become one of the most important exhibits in a
Museum noted for its dramatic and spectacular collection of Baroque paintings, and to
serve as a brilliant setting for plays, concerts, lectures, and motion picture programs
that are part of the cultural advantages the Ringling Museum offers to students of the
fine arts, and to the public. A. EVERETT AUSTIN, JR., FIRST DIRECTOR
OF THE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART
Treasured and revered as the nascent center of Sarasota, Floridas flourishing
culture of performing arts, the Historic Asolo Theater at The John and Mable Ringling
Museum of Art is also one of the most important architectural documents ever brought to
Built in Asolo, Italy, in 1798 to honor the legendary Catherine Cornaro, the playhouse
was reinstalled by the Ringling Museum in the early 1950s. From this important
stage sprang much of the theater, the opera and the music that distinguishes this Gulf
Coast city as one of the nations leading cultural centers.
Timeline of the Historic Asolo Theater
1454 Caterina Cornaro is born to an aristocratic Venetian family.
1468 Caterina is betrothed in a grand ceremony in Venice to the King
of Cyprus, Jacopo di Lusignan.
1472 1473 Caterina marries James II, the King of Cyprus. James
dies the following year after one year of marriage.
1489 1510 Caterina abdicates Cyprus to Venice. In return
for her cooperation the Venetian Senate grants Caterina the hill town of Asolo where
she created a magnificent court. She is still revered as one of the most
accomplished women of the Renaissance.
1798The Asolo Theater is constructed by Antonio
Locatelli. The Theater becomes a popular and esteemed performance venue hosting
some of the greatest theatrical performers of the 19th and early 20th
1930s The Asolo Theater is dismantled by the Fascist regime in
Italy. A Venetian collector/dealer, Adolph Loewi, purchases the theater and
stores it in his personal collection.
1937 A. Everett "Chick" Austin, then Director of The
Wadsworth, sees the dismantled theater in Loewis collection and falls in love
1946 Chick Austin is named Director of The John and Mable Ringling
Museum of Art and contacts Loewi about purchasing the theater.
1952 The Asolo Theater opens at the Ringling Museum with a
performance of La Serva Padrona and Bastie etBastiennne.
1958The Asolo Theater reopens in a new home on the Ringling Museum
grounds with a performance of The Abdication from the Seraligo.
2006 The Asolo Theater (now the Historic Asolo Theater) is restored and
slated to reopen in October, 2006.
From ringling.org June, 2006