It is the oldest surviving terrace theater in Europe, now it is getting a new name: in the future the “Rococo Theater” in the Schwetzingen Palace will be called the “Pigage Theater”. As the State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg announced on Thursday, the new name recalls the theater’s architect, Nicolas de Pigage, and honors his outstanding architectural legacy in Schwetzingen.
With the Schlosstheater, De Pigage created his first masterpiece in Schwetzingen from 1752 to 1753. Baden-Württemberg’s state palaces and gardens are now celebrating his 300th birthday – he was born on 2 August 1723 in Lunéville in Lorraine – as an opportunity to rename the palace theater “Pigage-Theater”. “We want to crown De Pigage’s most important work in Schwetzingen with his name,” emphasized Michael Hörrmann, Managing Director of the Baden-Württemberg State Palaces and Gardens. “From today’s point of view, the previous name ‘Rococo Theatre’ is, strictly speaking, inappropriate. Only one rococo element remains in the palace theater, namely the cartouche with the initials ‘CT’, representing Elector Carl Theodor, in whose name the theater was built.
Officially from August 2023
In 1770 the original rococo painting was painted in the early classical style. “In addition, the name ‘Rococo Theater’ was introduced in 1937 by the ‘Swastika Banner’, the central press organ of the NSDAP in Mannheim and the region,” explained Hörmann. “While the name itself is not incriminating, the circumstances are arguably another valid reason for renaming.”
When the theater was completed in 1753, it was first referred to as “Komödienhaus” and later as “Schlosstheater”. In August 2023, the name change to the “Pigage-Theater” will be officially celebrated as part of the celebrations to mark the architect’s 300th birthday.
Nicolas de Pigage was employed by Carl Theodor von der Pfalz from 1749. In 1752, the elector appointed him “Chief Architectural Director of the Electoral Palatinate” and in 1762 he was appointed “Garden Director” of his summer residence in Schwetzingen. In addition to a few buildings for the palace garden, such as the baths and the temple of Mercury, De Pigage was used for numerous palace buildings throughout the Electoral Palatinate. He also designed the library hall for the Mannheim Palace.
In Schwetzingen, between 1752 and 1753, De Pigage created the first open gallery theater in Europe with the palace theater in the northern circular building of the palace – ie. a theater without built-in tiered boxes. Also new was the slope of the auditorium towards the stage, which was equipped with fixed benches with simple supports. The fixed seating was intended to prevent the audience from “detecting” behaviors such as smoking or eating.
drawings painted on top
The original painting in the Rococo style was characterized by colorful floral wreaths. After 1770, the theater was then repainted in subdued shades of gray in the early classicist style.
The palace theater is also part of the historic theater route. There are about 3000 historical theaters in Europe. From this, the 120 most beautiful and best preserved were linked to form a cultural route. here