Spiridione Gopcevich, a rich merchant of the Serbo-Orthodox community, commissioned the design of the building to the architect Giovanni Berlam who was inspired by the eclectic style of the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
the Palace was built between 1847 and 1850 and Gopcevich lived there for twenty years. The Palace was too large for a single dwelling and therefore was divided into two halves, one on the Grand Canal and the other up towards via Machiavelli.In 1921 it became the headquarters of the Danubio Insurance Company, then in 1928 of the Cassa Marittima Adriatica and in 1999 it was bought by the Municipality to make it a Theater Museum.
The central door is surmounted by a balcony with parapet and balustrade, supported by winged horses and on the first floor on the facade of the Palace there are four niches representing, according to some, Count Zrinnski and his wife, on the left, and Count Kristofer Frankopan ( Cristoforo Frangipane) and consort, on the right. But according to other experts, the four characters are the heroes of the battle of Kosovo Poljo, Campo dei Merli, fought between Serbs and Turks on June 15, 1389: prince Lazzar Grabljanovich, his wife Milica (left) and the leader Milos Obilic and an anonymous Red Cross nurse who cared for the wounded on the battlefield (right).
The interior rooms have various stucco decorations on the ceilings and parquet floors with inlays, while the grand staircase that opens from the entrance is in marble.Carlo Schmidl and the birth of the Carlo Schmidl Museum (Trieste 7 October 1859 – 7 October 1943) , son of a Hungarian band director who moved from Budapest to Trieste, Carlo Schmidl began his thirteen year old activity as a copyist and clerk at the Fondaco Vicentini.
It is a music shop, also promoter of some publishing initiatives, of great importance in the Trieste musical life of the nineteenth century, which will later be taken over by Schmidl himself.
In fifty years he has collected booklets, photographs, theater programs, posters and playbills, autographs and memorabilia and any other type of material documenting theatrical and musical life in Trieste. As an author, Schmidl published the Universal Dictionary of Musicians (first edition: Ricordi, 1887) which still remains an indispensable tool for any investigation into the ‘musicography’ of the late nineteenth century.
The Civic Theater Museum was founded in December 1924, Carlo Schmidl stipulates an agreement with the Municipality of Trieste by which his historical-musical collection, the result of half a century of activity, is made public.
Appointed curator for life of the Museum, he kept the ownership and at the same time the management of the Collection and personally oversaw the increase with documents and data.
Upon his death in 1943, Schmidl bequeathed his collection to the municipality. Meanwhile, in 1936, the “Giuseppe Verdi” Municipal Theater Autonomous Body was established, which provides new spaces for the collections of the ever-growing Museum.
Except for the interlude of the Second World War, when the collections are put in safety in other locations, the historic building of the Verdi Theater therefore houses the Civic Theater Museum of the Carlo Schmidl Foundation (this is the name from 1947 onwards) until the closure of the Theater for the renovations in the early 1990s. Provisionally set up in the seat of Palazzo Morpurgo in Via Imbriani, the Museum has found its definitive location in Palazzo Gopcevich.