Théâtre de la Ville

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Théâtre de la Ville
DSC 7199-Theattre-de-la-vil.jpg
Facade on the Place du Châtelet
Former names
  • Théâtre Lyrique Impérial (1862) [1]
  • Théâtre Lyrique (1870–71) [1]
  • Théâtre Lyrique-Dramatique (1874) [2]
  • Théâtre Historique (1876) [3]
  • Théâtre des Nations (1879) [4]
  • Théâtre Lyrique (1887) [5]
  • Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt (1898) [5]
  • Théâtre de la Cité (1941) [6]
  • Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt (1947) [6]
  • Théâtre des Nations (1957) [6]
  • Théâtre de la Ville (1968) [5]
Address2 Place du Châtelet,
4th arrondissement
Coordinates 48°51′26″N2°20′53″E / 48.857212°N 2.348118°E / 48.857212; 2.348118 Coordinates: 48°51′26″N2°20′53″E / 48.857212°N 2.348118°E / 48.857212; 2.348118
Capacity 1,750 (1868) [7]
1,600 (1874) [2]
Opened30 October 1862
21 May 1871 (destroyed by fire)
6 November 1874 (reopened) [2]
Architect Gabriel Davioud

The Théâtre de la Ville (meaning the City Theatre) is one of the two theatres built in the 19th century by Baron Haussmann at Place du Châtelet, Paris, the other being the Théâtre du Châtelet. It is located at 2, place du Châtelet in the 4th arrondissement.

Theatre Collaborative form of performing art

Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.

Place du Châtelet square in Paris, France

The Place du Châtelet is a public square in Paris, on the right bank of the river Seine, on the borderline between the 1st and 4th arrondissements. It lies at the north end of the Pont au Change, a bridge that connects the Île de la Cité, near the Palais de Justice and the Conciergerie, to the right bank. The closest métro station is Châtelet

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.


Included among its many previous names are Théâtre Lyrique, Théâtre des Nations, and Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt .

Sarah Bernhardt French actress

Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage actress who starred in some of the most popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, Fédora and La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, and L'Aiglon by Edmond Rostand. She also played male roles, including Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rostand called her "the queen of the pose and the princess of the gesture", while Hugo praised her "golden voice". She made several theatrical tours around the world, and was one of the first prominent actresses to make sound recordings and to act in motion pictures.

Early history

Théâtre Lyrique

The theatre, which until the fall of Napoleon III in 1870 was officially known as the Théâtre Lyrique Impérial, was designed by the architect Gabriel Davioud for Baron Haussmann between 1860 and 1862 for the opera company more commonly known simply as the Théâtre Lyrique. That company's earlier theatre, the Théâtre Historique on the Boulevard du Temple, where it had performed since 1851, was slated for demolition as part of Haussmann's renovation of Paris. [8] During the company's initial period on the Place du Châtelet, it was under the direction of Léon Carvalho and gave the premieres of Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles (1863), Berlioz's Les Troyens à Carthage (1863), Gounod's Mireille (1864), Bizet's La jolie fille de Perth (1867), and Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (1867). Carvalho also presented the first performance of Verdi's revised and expanded version of Macbeth (in French) in 1865. [1] Jules Pasdeloup took over as director in 1868 and gave the first Paris performances of Wagner's Rienzi in 1869. [9] The Théâtre Lyrique on the Place du Châtelet was nearly completely destroyed by fire on 21 May 1871 during the recapturing of Paris by the forces of the Adolphe Thiers at the end of Paris Commune, and the Théâtre Lyrique opera company went bankrupt not long after. [10]

Napoleon III French emperor, president, and member of the House of Bonaparte

Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first elected President of France from 1848 to 1852. When he could not constitutionally be re-elected, he seized power in 1851 and became the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870. He founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, and engaged in the Crimean War and the war for Italian unification. After his defeat and downfall he went into exile and died in England in 1873.

Architect person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

Gabriel Davioud French architect

Jean-Antoine-Gabriel Davioud was a French architect, best known for the 1878 Palais du Trocadéro in Paris which was demolished to make place in 1937 for the Palais de Chaillot.

Théâtre Historique and Théâtre des Nations

The theatre was rebuilt in 1874 on the same plans and was at first called the Théâtre Lyrique-Dramatique, [2] but was soon renamed to Théâtre Historique, which it retained until 1879, when it became Théâtre des Nations. [4] [6] Victor Maurel produced a season of Italian opera at the Théâtre des Nations in 1884. It included on 1 February 1884 the first Paris performance of Massenet's Hérodiade , in the Italian version entitled Erodiade. The cast included Fidès Devriès as Salomé, Guglielmina Tremelli as Hérodiade, Jean de Reszke as Jean, Maurel as Hérode, Édouard de Reszke as Phanuel, and Giuseppe Villani as Vitellius. In the tenth and final performance of Erodiade on 13 March three De Reszkes could be heard, as Josephine de Reszke sang Salomé. [11]

Victor Maurel French opera singer

Victor Maurel was a French operatic baritone who enjoyed an international reputation as a great singing actor.

<i>Hérodiade</i> opera by Jules Massenet

Hérodiade is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Paul Milliet and Henri Grémont, based on the novella Hérodias (1877) by Gustave Flaubert. It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels on 19 December 1881.

Jean de Reszke Polish singer

Jean de Reszke was a Polish tenor who was a major male opera star of the late 19th century.


In 1887 the Opéra-Comique moved into the theatre after its previous home, the second Salle Favart, had been destroyed by fire. The name Théâtre Lyrique was restored, and the Opéra-Comique continued to perform in the theatre until 1898, when it returned to the newly built, third Salle Favart. During the company's sojourn on the Place du Châtelet, it presented several operas by Massenet, including the premieres of Esclarmonde (1889) and Sapho (1897), as well as the first Paris performances of Werther (6 January 1893) and La Navarraise (3 October 1895). [5] [12]

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.

<i>Esclarmonde</i> opera by Jules Massenet

Esclarmonde is an opéra in four acts and eight tableaux, with prologue and epilogue, by Jules Massenet, to a French libretto by Alfred Blau and Louis Ferdinand de Gramont. It was first performed on 15 May 1889 by the Opéra-Comique at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Place du Châtelet in Paris.

<i>Sapho</i> (Massenet) opera by Jules Massenet

Sapho is a pièce lyrique in five acts. The music was composed by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Cain and Arthur Bernède, based on the novel of the same name by Alphonse Daudet. It was first performed on 27 November 1897 by the Opéra Comique at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Place du Châtelet in Paris with Emma Calvé as Fanny Legrand. A charming and effective piece, the success of which is highly dependent on the charisma of its lead soprano, it has never earned a place in the standard operatic repertory.

Later history

Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet (1899) Sarahbernhardt1.jpg
Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet (1899)

In 1899 the theatre was renamed Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt after the renowned actress Sarah Bernhardt, who produced there from 1899 for nearly two decades. She opened with a revival of one of her great roles, Victorien Sardou's La Tosca . Other productions included a revival of Edmond Rostand's La Samaritaine and the premiere of his L'Aiglon in which she played Napoleon's son (the Duke of Reichstadt). Another well known breeches part was the title role of Marcel Schwob's adaptation of Hamlet . After her death in 1923 the theatre continued under her son Maurice for several years. After his death in 1928 the theatre kept the name Sarah Bernhardt until the Occupation of France by the Germans in World War II, [13] when the name was changed to Théâtre de la Cité because of Bernhardt's Jewish ancestry. [6]

<i>La Tosca</i> play by Victorien Sardou

La Tosca is a five-act drama by the 19th-century French playwright Victorien Sardou. It was first performed on 24 November 1887 at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris, with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. Despite negative reviews from the Paris critics at the opening night, it became one of Sardou's most successful plays and was toured by Bernhardt throughout the world in the years following its premiere. The play itself has not been performed since Sardou's day, but its operatic adaptation, Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, has achieved enduring popularity. There have been several other adaptations of the play including two for the Japanese theatre and an English burlesque, Tra-La-La Tosca as well as several film versions.

Edmond Rostand French writer

Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism and is known best for his play Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand's romantic plays contrasted with the naturalistic theatre popular during the late nineteenth century. Another of Rostand's works, Les Romanesques, was adapted to the musical comedy The Fantasticks.

Marcel Schwob French writer

Mayer André Marcel Schwob, known as Marcel Schwob, was a Jewish French symbolist writer best known for his short stories and his literary influence on authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño. He has been called a "precursor of Surrealism". In addition to over a hundred short stories, he wrote journalistic articles, essays, biographies, literary reviews and analysis, translations and plays. He was extremely well known and respected during his life and notably befriended a great numbers of intellectuals and artists of the time.

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes presented several premieres at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, including Stravinsky's Apollon musagète (12 June 1928) and the revised Renard (21 May 1929; with choreography by Serge Lifar), and two ballets by Prokoviev, Le pas d'acier (27 May 1927) and Le Fils prodigue (21 May 1929). [5] [14]

Théâtre de la Ville

The theatre first acquired the name Théâtre de la Ville in 1968. [5] Since the late 1970s the institution, under the direction of Jean Mercure (1968–1985) then of Gérard Violette (1985–2008), has been internationally recognised for its contemporary dance productions and has showcased major choreographers such as Pina Bausch, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jan Fabre, Sankai Juku, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Merce Cunningham and Carolyn Carlson.

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  1. 1 2 3 Walsh 1981, pp. 149–239, 316–321.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Almanach des Spectacles, année 1874 p. 87.
  3. Almanach des Spectacles, année 1876 p. 75.
  4. 1 2 Lecomte 1905, p. 38 (Théâtre Lyrique-Dramatique), p. 32 (Théâtre Historique), p. 43 (Théâtre des Nations).
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Simeone 2000, p. 203.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Based on the corresponding article in the French Wikipédia (version 12 juin 2012 à 11:13).
  7. Galignani's New Paris Guide for 1868, p. 470.
  8. Walsh 1981, pp. 149–150.
  9. Walsh 1981, pp. 241–267, 321–322.
  10. Walsh 1981, pp. 274–275.
  11. Irvine 1994, p. 139.
  12. Wild & Charlton 2003, pp. 97, 339.
  13. McCormick 1995.
  14. Program of the Ballets Russes for 21 May 1929: Renard and Le Fils prodigue at Gallica.