When architects design auditoria, they are invariably looking back towards the ideas within the Greek amphitheatres, particularly Epidaurus. We have to remember though that this was built in a very quiet environment, it was concerned with the spoken word, with a minimum of musical accompaniment, and was built around very, very good sight lines for everybody. It was not an enclosed auditorium and therefore had no reverberant field.
The earliest example of an exclosed auditorium which followed this is of course Palladio's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza of 1580. This was and is successful because it had a small volume, it brought the audience in a semi-circle very near to the action, it had a highly-diffusing back wall, and could be considered particularly successful for the spoken word.
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