Modern Theater and Ancient History Clash on the Palatine

Multiple news outlets are reporting that a heated debate is brewing in Rome over a theatrical space created on the Palatine Hill for a summer production of “Divo Nerone – Opera Rock,” which opened 1 June. 

Situated atop the famed Roman hill near the ancient footprint of Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea, the theater, which can seat an audience up to 3,000, poses threats to the integrity of the ancient remains beneath and had also forced a halt in an archaeological dig occurring at the site. As a result, Nero is yet again drawing forth the ire of Romans. Adriano la Regina, Rome’s antiquities caretaker from 1976-2004, was quoted by The New York Times as saying: 

“This may not be the first grave abuse perpetuated against Rome’s monuments, but it is certainly the most serious.” 

Filippo Coarelli, archaeology professor from Perugia University, echoed similar sentiments in an interview with The Telegraph

“This is a very fragile archaeological area and the stage has been built above the remains of a temple dedicated to Heliogobalus. It is unacceptable that such a place can be used for a spectacle like this. Its a mess.” 

Along with guarantees to not damage the site, the show’s producers have promised three percent of ticket sales along with a €250,000 site rental fee to be paid to the city.

Further Reading: 
Elisabetta Povoledo, “Nero Rock Opera Is a Burning Issue in Rome” (The New York Times, 9 June 2017). 

Nick Squires, “Anger in Rome over rock musical based on the life of the Emperor Nero” (The Telegraph, 18 May 2017). 

Tom Kingston, “Rome burns with indignation at plans for Nero the musical” (The Times, 24 April 2017). 

View of the theater atop the Palatine Hill, courtesy of The New York Times/Stefano Montesi/Corbis, via Getty Images. 

Photo of Giorgio Adamo, star of “Divo Nerone – Opera Rock,” courtesy of The New York Times/Andrea Leonetti di Vagno 

Posted by Alexis Culotta 

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