Sala della Musica at the Ospedaletto

Sala della Musica at the Ospedaletto (Santa Maria dei Derelitti), 1987-91

Twelve international committees collaborated with IRE for the funding of this restoration programme. The Matteo Lucchesi-designed music room is part of one of Venice's four old hospitals, which provided not only medical care but also took in and educated orphans; the boys were trained in skills that would enable them to be employed in the Arsenale dockyard and the girls were taught sewing and music. The room (rectangular with rounded corners, frescoed on the end wall and ceiling by Jacopo Guarana) was designed specifically as a space for rehearsals for the female orchestra and choir. When used for concerts, the musicians played from a small, stuccoed balcony above the door, separated from the room by a decorative wrought-iron grille. In 1979 the frescoed ceiling was threatened with collapse owing to leaks from the flat above and a badly installed external balcony. Damp was also penetrating the end wall and rising from the ground floor. The entire structure needed attention. The roof was restored, the brickwork of the outside walls was patched up to two metres, and the floor, walls, beams and sagging ceiling were consolidated and cleaned. Every aspect of the oval interior received specialist attention: the furniture, the stucco work, the trompe l'oeil architectural frescoes by Antonio Mengozzi Colonna, the ceiling and the principal fresco, Jacopo Guarana's Concerto delle Putte.

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