Ronconi and Rome: the Teatro Valle Reopens to the Public with a Retrospective Devoted to the Great Italian Actor and Director


Ronconi and Rome is the exhibition that the Teatro Valle is hosting from 6 May to 20 June, after the long period of closure due to the pandemic.

The extraordinary and precious exhibition marks the reopening of the historic Roman theatre and represents a tribute by the Teatro di Roma dedicated to the brilliant innovator of the language of the scene, Luca Ronconi, who taught acting to generations of talented young people and was the creator of a theatre without limits.


The Debut at Valle

The exhibition bears witness to the fertile relationship between the director and Rome, his city, through an itinerary of images and documents, which unfolds in the foyer with the documentary section Gli Esordi al Teatro  Valle, curated by Sandro Piccioni, with the contribution of the Centro Teatrale SantacristinaArchivio Luca Ronconi, dedicated to Ronconi’s debuts as an actor and director at the Valle.


A second part of the exhibition is in the theatre hall, transformed into a magic box to host Lo sguardo di Luca, curated by Gianfranco Capitta, a journey through restored stage photos by Marcello Norberth, which will come to life with illusory and spatial effects to tell the story of the maestro Ronconi’s relationship with the Teatro di Roma. He was one of the greatest protagonists of this theatre.


The itinerary of the exhibition begins in the foyer, where visitors can find pictures of Ronconi in Rome and the Valle: the city where he began to act with his former classmates at the Accademia d’Arte Drammatica (Drama School), who would later encourage him to become a director. For this reason, the first part of the exhibition – Luca’s Debut – focuses on his revelation and debut in theatre. These photos are shown to the public for the first time in an articulate way and through Ronconi’s most intimate reflections. An unprecedented glimpse into his brief career as an actor at the Valle Theatre traces the stages of five shows in which Ronconi was involved in acting: from his debut in 1953,  in Tre quarti di luna (Three-Quarter Moon) directed by Luigi Squarzina as the sidekick of a young Vittorio Gassman; to Candida by George Bernard Shaw, in which he acted under the guidance of his teacher Orazio Costa; in Lorenzaccio by Alfred de Musset in 1954, again directed by Squarzina.  Then visitors to the exhibition can admire some photos of his brief experience with the Compagnia dei Giovani (Young Company), created by Giorgio De Lullo, Rossella Falk, Tino Buazzelli, Anna Maria Guarnieri e Romolo Valli. In 1955 Ronconi performed in Tea and Sympathy by Robert Anderson, under the direction of Luigi Squarzina.

Tea and Sympathy, 1955
In 1959 he played in Romagnola, his last performance as an actor. Furthermore, visitors can admire Luca Ronconi as a theatre director at the Valle, with his first play in 1963 for the GravinaOcchiniPaniRonconiVolonté company with La buona moglie goldoniana (The Good Goldonian Wife), a total bust, despite the good reviews by Ennio Flaiano and Italo de Feo. This debacle kept Ronconi away from the stage for a few years.

Olga Villi & Luca Ronconi in Tea and Sympathy, 1955
In 1969 he was hired by Vito Pandolfi, the first director of the Teatro Stabile di Roma, to direct his second and last production at the Valle. With the success of Phaedra by Jean Racine, Ronconi began to give substance to his incomparable vision of theatre, through fantasies and unusual creative solutions for the scenes, which led him towards the resounding success with the piece Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, which made him famous. After a long tournée, he returned to Rome to direct the Stabile Capitolino. In this part of the exhibition, each performance is accompanied by the words and memories of the maestro, with excerpts from books by Franco Quadri, Gianfranco Capitta, and Giovanni Agosti, and a selection of theatre reviews written by the leading names in daily and weekly newspapers of that time. Moreover, this exhibition section in the foyer is enriched with video footage of some evocative performances.

Luca Ronconi & Vittorio Gassman in Tre quarti di luna (Three Quarter Moon), Picture by De Antonis, courtesy Museo dell’Attore (Actor’s Museum), Genoa

The exhibition continues in the foyer, populated with images and phrases dedicated to Ronconi,  thoughts that accompanied him during the years of direction at the Argentina Theatre: his trusted organiser, the mythical “NunziGioseffi, devoted to Ronconi’stheatre; his friend and collaborator Paolo Radaelli; even his dogs are on show.

Giorgio De Lullo & Luca Ronconi in Lorenzaccio,1954
In the second part of the exhibition entitled Lo sguardo di Luca (Luca’s Gaze), visitors arrive at a room that opens up like an abysmal space with prismatic refractions, in which Ronconi’s memories hover.  A journey through images projected onto two panels that welcome the public at the entrance in an embrace of rare, almost mystical suggestion. An immersion in the intimate traces left by the maestro in the twelve masterpieces produced for the Teatro di Roma and now re-proposed in the visionary and magnetic story of the stage photos “stolen” by the photographer Marcello Norberth. This is a documentation of inestimable historical and human value made up of shots in black and white or colour, in which an almost tangible vitality of the bodies is impressed and which restore the sense of movement destined to come alive in the spectator’s gaze. Twelve hypnotic creations that tell of the breath and depth impressed on the theatre and culture of the 20th century, an entire century that became flesh and voice through the staging of several plays: Le due commedie in commedia (The two comedies in comedy, 1984), Aminta (1994), Dio ne scampi (God forbid, 1995), Re Lear (King Lear, 1995), Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana (That Awful Mess on Via Merulana, 1996), Il lutto si addice a Elettra (Mourning Becomes Electra, 1997), Davila Roa (1997), Questa sera si recita a soggetto (Tonight We Improvise, 1998), I fratelli Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov, 1998), Alcesti di Samuele (1999), Diario privato (Private Diary, 2005), all on the stage of Teatro Argentina, and Towards Peer Gynt at the Teatro Centrale (1995), inspired by Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen.

Quer Pasticciaccio – Picture by Marcello Norberth
Relying on this enveloping embrace, visitors are guided towards the stage, on which the video-art installation by Luca Brinchi and Daniele Spanò, an experience of sensory immersion between video and sound that enhances the observation of six of the twelve performances through a fascinating animation with details, images and theatrical poses that seem to take new shape on stage. A disquieting and poignant visual expansion in its electronic yet palpable dimension, which thanks to the special use of space breathes new life into Ronconi’s work, linked to the fragments of dialogue from the performances themselves, miraculously rediscovered and now brought back to life even for those who were unable to attend.

The Brothers Karamazov – Picture by Marcello Norberth
The exhibition is just one of the many events that the city of Rome dedicates to maestro Ronconi in this spring marks the return to the enjoyment of art de visu.

Feature Immage: Alcesti di Samuele – © Marcello-Norberth – Courtesy Teatro di Roma