Théâtre de la Renaissance

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Theatre de la Renaissance Paris theatre de la Renaissance.jpg
Théâtre de la Renaissance

The name Théâtre de la Renaissance has been used successively for three distinct Parisian theatre companies. The first two companies, which were short-lived enterprises in the 19th century, used the Salle Ventadour, now an office building on the Rue Méhul in the 2nd arrondissement.

Salle Ventadour

The Salle Ventadour, a former Parisian theatre in the rue Neuve-Ventadour, now the rue Méhul, was built between 1826 and 1829 for the Opéra-Comique, to designs by Jacques-Marie Huvé, a prominent architect. The original theatre had a capacity of 1,106, but was subsequently taken over by the Théâtre-Italien and expanded to a capacity of 1,295 in 1841, thereafter becoming perhaps most noteworthy as the theatre in which the majority of the operas of the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi were first performed in France. When the Théâtre-Italien company went out of business in 1878, the theatre was converted to offices.

2nd arrondissement of Paris French municipal arrondissement in Île-de-France, France

The 2nd arrondissement of Paris is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France. In spoken French, this arrondissement is colloquially referred to as deuxième.


The current company was founded in 1873, and its much smaller theatre (pictured) was built that same year next to the Porte Saint-Martin at 20 boulevard Saint-Martin, in the 10th arrondissement. Besides performances of musical theatre, Feydeau's farces were first produced in this theatre, and plays by Victorien Sardou. Among the actors who triumphed there were Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and Raimu, later Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri.

Porte Saint-Martin Parisian monument

The Porte Saint-Martin is a Parisian monument located at the site of one of the gates of the now-destroyed fortifications of Paris. It is located at the crossing of Rue Saint-Martin, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin and the grands boulevards Boulevard Saint-Martin and Boulevard Saint-Denis.

10th arrondissement of Paris French municipal arrondissement in Île-de-France, France

The 10th arrondissement of Paris is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France. In spoken French, this arrondissement is referred to as dixième.

Georges Feydeau French writer

Georges Feydeau was a French playwright of the era known as the Belle Époque. He is remembered for his many lively farces. He wrote over sixty plays and was a forerunner of Vaudeville.


Salle Ventadour Salle Ventadour c1830 - HBwebsite.jpg
Salle Ventadour

The first company to be called Théâtre de la Renaissance opened its doors in 1838 under the sponsorship of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, père, who wanted to have a location for mounting their historical dramas. The Salle Ventadour (built in 1829 for the Opéra-Comique) was used. [1]

Victor Hugo French poet, novelist, and dramatist

Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections, such as Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles.

Opéra-Comique opera company in Paris

The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the Théâtre-Italien up to about 1793, when it again became most commonly known as the Opéra-Comique. Today the company's official name is Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, and its theatre, with a capacity of around 1,248 seats, sometimes referred to as the Salle Favart, is located in Place Boïeldieu, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier, one of the theatres of the Paris Opéra. The musicians and others associated with the Opéra-Comique have made important contributions to operatic history and tradition in France, and to French opera. Its current mission is to reconnect with its history, and discover its unique repertoire, to ensure production and dissemination of operas for the wider public. Mainstays of the repertory at the Opéra-Comique during its history have included the following works which have each been performed more than 1,000 times by the company: Cavalleria Rusticana, Le chalet, La dame blanche, Le domino noir, La fille du régiment, Lakmé, Manon, Mignon, Les noces de Jeannette, Le pré aux clercs, Tosca, La bohème, Werther and Carmen, the last having been performed more than 2,500 times.

On 8 November 1838, Hugo's Ruy Blas starring Frédérick Lemaître had a triumphant premiere, and the French version of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor retitled and reworked as Lucie de Lammermoor was produced there in August 1839. His L'ange de Nisida , which was later reworked into La favorite , was commissioned by the company, although never performed due to bankruptcy. [2] In April 1839, L'Alchimiste and Paul Jones by Alexandre Dumas (also with Frédérick Lemaître) were staged, but, due to theatrical intrigues, it was forced to close in 1841.

<i>Ruy Blas</i> tragedy by Victor Hugo

Ruy Blas is a tragic drama by Victor Hugo. It was the first play presented at the Théâtre de la Renaissance and opened on November 8, 1838. Though considered by many to be Hugo’s best drama, the play initially met with only average success.

Frédérick Lemaître French actor (1800-1876)

Frédérick Lemaître — birth name Antoine Louis Prosper Lemaître — was a French actor and playwright, one of the most famous players on the celebrated Boulevard du Crime.

<i>Lucia di Lammermoor</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

The Carvalho company

In 1868 Carvalho (director of the Théâtre Lyrique) obtained the rights to stage operatic works at the Ventadour, [3] mainly more elaborate works in the Théâtre Lyrique's repertory, with Adolphe Deloffre as chief conductor. The season opened with Faust and included other works by Gounod and Clapisson. [4] The company was very short-lived, lasting from 16 March 1868 to 5 May 1868. [5]

Léon Carvalho French opera singer

Léon Carvalho was a French impresario and stage director.

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.

Louis Michel Adolphe Deloffre was a French violinist and conductor active in London and Paris, who conducted several important operatic premieres in the latter city, particularly by Charles Gounod and Georges Bizet.

1873 to the present

Theatre de la Renaissance (ca. 1873), with the Porte Saint-Martin to the left Theatre de la Renaissance c1873 - Levin 2009 p400.jpg
Théâtre de la Renaissance (ca. 1873), with the Porte Saint-Martin to the left

The architect Charles de Lalande designed a new 'théâtre à l'italienne' on the site of the Deffieux restaurant. The inauguration took place on 8 March 1873 with La Femme de feu by Adolphe Belot. Hippolyte Hopstein directed the theatre until December 1875. Thérèse Raquin (after the novel by Émile Zola) was premiered in July 1873, Giroflé-Girofla and La petite mariée , opéras-bouffes by Charles Lecocq in 1874 and 1875.

<i>Thérèse Raquin</i> novel by Émile Zola

Thérèse Raquin[teʁɛz ʁakɛ̃] is an 1868 novel by French writer Émile Zola, first published in serial form in the literary magazine L'Artiste in 1867. It was Zola's third novel, though the first to earn wide fame. The novel's adultery and murder were considered scandalous and famously described as "putrid" in a review in the newspaper Le Figaro.

Émile Zola French writer

Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'Accuse…! Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.

<i>Giroflé-Girofla</i> opera

Giroflé-Girofla is an opéra bouffe in three acts with music by Charles Lecocq. The French libretto was by Albert Vanloo and Eugène Leterrier. The story, set in 13th century Spain, concerns twin brides, one of whom is abducted by pirates. The other twin poses as both brides until the first is rescued. The composer chose an extravagantly far-fetched theme to contrast with his more realistic and romantic success La fille de Madame Angot premiered the previous year.

Victor Koning succeeded Hopstein from December 1875 until 1882, and opéras-bouffes and opéras-comiques featured strongly : in 1877 La Marjolaine by Charles Lecocq, Le Tzigane by Johann Strauss, in 1878 Le petit duc by Lecocq, in 1879 La Petite Mademoiselle by Lecocq and in 1880 Belle Lurette by Jacques Offenbach.

From 1882 to 1893 the theatre lacked direction although the period saw the creation of Fanfreluche, an opéra-comique by Gaston Serpette in 1883, La Parisienne and La Navette by Henry Becque in 1885, Tailleur pour dames by Feydeau in 1886, Isoline by André Messager in 1888, and Madame Chrysanthème also by Messager in 1893.

Sarah Bernhardt took over the direction from 1893 to 1899, during which time Gismonda by Victorien Sardou in 1894, La Princesse Lointaine by Edmond Rostand in 1895, Les Amants by Maurice Donnay and La Figurante by François Curel in 1896, La Ville morte by Gabriele d'Annunzio, L'Affranchie by Maurice Donnay, Le Radeau de la Méduse by Romain Coolus in 1898, were all premiered. On 3 December 1896, Bernhardt created herself Lorenzaccio by Musset and the following year La Samaritaine by Edmond Rostand.

The Milliaud brothers ran the theatre from 1899, followed by Firmin Gémier in 1901, until the arrival of Lucien Guitry from October 1902 until 1909. The actor Albert Tarride then directed the théâtre, then Cora Laparcerie took over in 1913, with Marcel Paston from 1928 to 1933.

In 1942, while the theatre was threatened with destruction, Henri Varna acquired the building and Jean Darcante put on shows.

In Octobre 1956 the actress Véra Korène of the Comédie-Française became director of a theatre restored in the style of the Second Empire. 23 September 1959 saw the creation of Les Séquestrés d'Altona by Jean-Paul Sartre with Serge Reggiani. 1960 saw L'Etouffe-Chrétien by Félicien Marceau with Arletty, with Louisiane by Marcel Aymé in 1961, Qui a peur de Virginia Woolf ? in 1962 and Douce-Amère, first play by Jean Poiret in 1970.

In 1978 there was a season of opérettes, and from 1981 to 1988 Michèle Lavalard led the théâtre succeeded by Niels Arestrup. In 1990 La Cuisse du Steward by Jean-Michel Ribes was premiered, and in 1994 Un Air de Famille by Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri.

Under Christian Spillemaecker and Bruno Moynot, the theatre staged comic plays and shows with success.

The current capacity is 650 seats.

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  1. Langham Smith R. Paris In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
  2. Langham Smith R. Paris In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
  3. Carvalho was obliged to use the title Théâtre de la Renaissance to avoid confusion with his other theatre. Walsh TJ. Second Empire Opera – The Théâtre-Lyrique Paris 1851-1870. John Calder Ltd, London, 1981.
  4. Walsh TJ. Second Empire Opera – The Théâtre-Lyrique Paris 1851-1870. John Calder Ltd, London, 1981.
  5. Levin, Alicia C. "A documentary overview of musical theaters in Paris, 18301900", p. 395 in Fauser, Annegret, ed.; Everist, Mark, ed. (2009). Music, theater, and cultural transfer. Paris, 18301914. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN   978-0-226-23926-2.

Coordinates: 48°52′8.5″N2°21′23″E / 48.869028°N 2.35639°E / 48.869028; 2.35639