Théâtre de l'Athénée (rue Scribe)

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Salle de l'Athenee, 1866 Nouvelle salle de l'Athenee 1866 - Chauveau 1999 p85.jpg
Salle de l'Athénée, 1866

Théâtre de l'Athénée or Salle de l'Athénée was the name of a theatre in the basement of a building built in 1865 by the banker Bischoffsheim at 17 rue Scribe in the 9th arrondissement of Paris (near the new, but at the time unfinished opera house, now known as the Palais Garnier). The Athénée was initially small, with a capacity of 760 spectators, but was enlarged to 900 places by the addition of a top gallery in 1867. [1] The interior was decorated by Charles Cambon. The venue was used by a variety of companies, including the Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes (1869), the Théâtre Lyrique (1871–1872), the Théâtre Scribe (1874–1875), and the Athénée-Comique (1876–1883). It closed permanently in 1883. [2]

9th arrondissement of Paris French municipal arrondissement in Île-de-France, France

The 9th arrondissement of Paris is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France.

Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, France

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

Théâtre Lyrique former opera company in Paris

The Théâtre Lyrique was one of four opera companies performing in Paris during the middle of the 19th century. The company was founded in 1847 as the Opéra-National by the French composer Adolphe Adam and renamed Théâtre Lyrique in 1852. It used four different theatres in succession, the Cirque Olympique, the Théâtre Historique, the Salle du Théâtre-Lyrique, and the Salle de l'Athénée, until it ceased operations in 1872.



The Athénée was inaugurated on 21 November 1866 with a series of concerts conducted by Jules Pasdeloup. Concerts were generally given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and conferences on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. The concerts were not financially successful, and Bischoffsheim looked for a new tenant. The final concert was given on 31 May 1867. [2]

Jules Pasdeloup French conductor

Jules Étienne Pasdeloup was a French conductor.

The venue was next used by a musical theatre company under the name Théâtre de l'Athénée from 13 December 1867 to 13 January 1869. The directors were William Busnach and Léon Sari. Opéras-bouffes , opérettes , and vaudevilles were presented, by composers such as Georges Bizet, Léo Delibes, and Charles Lecocq. The chef d'orchestre was Bernardin. [2]

Musical theatre work that combines songs, music, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.

Georges Bizet French composer

Georges Bizet, registered at birth as Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.

Léo Delibes French composer

Clément Philibert Léo Delibes was a French composer of the Romantic era (1815–1910), who specialised in ballets, operas, and other works for the stage. His most notable works include the ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876), as well as the operas Le roi l'a dit (1873) and Lakmé (1883).

On 11 February 1869 Louis Martinet transferred his Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes, formerly in a 350-seat theatre at 26 Boulevard des Italiens, to the larger Athénée. Their conductor, Charles Constantin, also came with them. On 1 April 1869, the company took the theatre's name and began performing as the Théâtre de l'Athénée. On 16 June 1870, when Martinet was appointed head of the Théâtre-Lyrique (on the Place du Châtelet), he decided to close the Athénée. [3]

Boulevard des Italiens boulevard in Paris, France

The boulevard des Italiens is one of the four 'grands boulevards' in Paris, a chain running east west and also including boulevard de la Madeleine, Boulevard des Capucines and boulevard Montmartre. The origin of the name is the théâtre des Italiens built on it in 1783, shortly before the French Revolution on the site now occupied by the third Salle Favart.

Charles Constantin was a French conductor, violinist and composer.

The Franco-Prussian War and Siege of Paris (1870–71) prevented any of Martinet's productions from being staged at the Théâtre-Lyrique on the Place du Châtelet, [4] and when that theatre was destroyed by fire during the events of the subsequent Paris Commune, he decided to move the company to the Athénée, where they opened on 11 September 1871 under the name Théâtre-Lyrique, with Constantin as the conductor. In March 1872, the name was changed to Théâtre-Lyrique-National. The company's last performance at the Athénée was on 31 May 1872, and Martinet's enterprise declared bankruptcy on 6 June. [5]

Franco-Prussian War significant conflict pitting the Second French Empire against the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and later the Third French Republic, and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

Siege of Paris (1870–71) Siege during the Franco-Prussian War

The Siege of Paris, lasting from 19 September 1870 to 28 January 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces, led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune.

Paris Commune revolutionary city council of Paris 1871

The Paris Commune was a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871. The Franco-Prussian War had led to the capture of Emperor Napoleon III in September 1870, the collapse of the Second French Empire, and the beginning of the Third Republic. Because Paris was under siege for four months, the Third Republic moved its capital to Tours. A hotbed of working-class radicalism, Paris was primarily defended during this time by the often politicised and radical troops of the National Guard rather than regular Army troops. Paris surrendered to the Prussians on 28 January 1871, and in February Adolphe Thiers, the new chief executive of the French national government, signed an armistice with Prussia that disarmed the Army but not the National Guard.

On 10 October 1872 Martinet's former secretary, Jules Ruelles, revived performances at the theatre under the name Théâtre de l'Athénée (although some posters give the name as Théâtre Lyrique). Operas and opéras-comiques were performed, and the conductor was again Constantin. This company's final performance was on 3 December 1873. [6]

The theatre reopened on 5 September 1874 as the Théâtre Scribe, under the direction of Noël Martin, who presented plays until 6 February 1875, when Un accroc dans l'dos (an opérette) and La belle Lina (an opérette-bouffe by Paul Avenel and Paul Mahalin with music by Charles Hubans) were performed. The company closed down that month after six performances. [7]

Poster by Jules Cheret (1876) Athenee-Comique-1876.jpg
Poster by Jules Chéret (1876)

A more successful company known as the Athénée-Comique, under the direction of Montrouge, performed at the theatre from 4 February 1876 until 31 May 1883. Light comedies, revues, vaudevilles, and opéras-comiques were given. The chef d'orchestre was Louis Varney, whose Il signor Pulcinella was presented there, beginning on 26 September 1876. [8]

The last performance in the theatre was on 31 May 1883, after which the top gallery and the balcony below it were converted into a restaurant, and the orchestra pit became a coal cellar. [9]

See also


  1. Lecomte 1912, p. 77; Chauveau 1999, pp. 85–87 ("Athénée. II").
  2. 1 2 3 Wild 1989, pp. 45–46.
  3. Wild 1989, p. 130 ["Fantaisies-Parisiennes (Th. des)"].
  4. Walsh 1981, pp. 274–275.
  5. Wild 1989, p. 238 ["Lyrique (Th.)"].
  6. Wild 1989, p. 46.
  7. Wild 1989, p. 394 ["Scribe (Th.)]; Lecomte 1912, pp. 137–143.
  8. Wild 1989, p. 47; Lecomte 1912, pp 150–151.
  9. Chauveau 1999, p. 87.


Coordinates: 48°52′21″N2°19′51″E / 48.87262°N 2.33076°E / 48.87262; 2.33076

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