Teatro Metastasio in Prato is a main theatre in Tuscany and one of the most important in Italy for plays, founded in the 19th century at the behest of the rising bourgeoisie. When the 17th-century Teatro dei Semplici, near the town hall, was not longer suitable to meet the public’s needs and host the melodramas that had become popular in the 1820s, some members of the upper middle class campaigned for the construction of a new theatre, plans for which included some of Valentini.
After various difficulties tied primarily to the building’s location, in 1826, the Grand Duke issued his approval for a theatre designed by Luigi Cambray Digny, director of the Grand Ducal Regie Fabbriche.
The architect designed the unique and refined curved façade, behind which is a horse shoe-shaped hall with boxes that are adorned with ornate, white stucco and gilded decorations. The theatre was inaugurated on September 8, 1830 with a performance of Aureliano in Palmira by Gioacchino Rossini and was outfitted with a local orchestra.
In 1939, the theatre was donated to the municipality of Prato, and between 1956 and 1964, the building underwent major renovations.
Over the years, the Metastasio has become one of the most important theatres in Italy. The traditional program of plays is alternated with avant-garde works held in the former Fabbricone industrial complex.