Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens

Last updated

Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens in 2010 Paris 2 - Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens -1.JPG
Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in 2010

The Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens (French:  [teɑtʁ de buf paʁizjɛ̃] ) is a Parisian theatre founded in 1855 by the composer Jacques Offenbach for the performance of opéra bouffe and operetta. The current theatre is located in the 2nd arrondissement at 4 rue Monsigny with an entrance at the back at 65 Passage Choiseul. In the 19th century the theatre was often referred to as the Salle Choiseul. With the decline in popularity of operetta after 1870, the theatre expanded its repertory to include comedies. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]



Salle Lacaze

The public at the Bouffes-Parisiens (c. 1860) Bouffes parisiens (cropped).jpg
The public at the Bouffes-Parisiens (c. 1860)

In February 1855, Offenbach successfully requested a license from the Parisian authorities for the performance of what he described as a "new and original" genre of musical theatre. He justified his proposed endeavour by saying that these works would have mass appeal and would provide opportunities for young French composers. [3]

The company gave its first performances during the summer of 1855 at the Salle Lacaze. This theatre was unusually small with a capacity of only 300 spectators, [6] but was located on the Carré Marigny, near the crowds attending the Exposition Universelle. The inaugural performance was on 5 July with Offenbach conducting four of his own works: a prologue called Entrez, messieurs, mesdames, a one-act pièce d'occasion written by Joseph Méry and "Jules Servières" (a pen name of Ludovic Halévy, who worked as a government official and needed to protect his reputation); Une nuit blanche, a one-act opéra-comique on a pastoral theme; Arlequin barbier, a pantomime utilizing themes from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia arranged by "Alfred Lange" (Offenbach); and Les deux aveugles , a one-act bouffonerie musicale about two swindling "blind" Parisian beggars. The latter was almost cut, since the invited audience who attended the dress rehearsal failed to laugh, but Offenbach decided to retain it, and it was the hit of the opening night. This little piece soon acquired an international reputation (due to visitors from the Exposition), and Offenbach's admirers soon included Tolstoy and Thackeray. Further performances in the summer of 1855 were primarily of satirical sketches which only included a few musical numbers. The season, however, was so successful that Offenbach was able to resign his position as conductor of the Théâtre Français. [1] [2] [7]

Salle Choiseul

The Salle Choiseul during a performance of Offenbach's Un mari a la porte (1859) Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens interior during 'Le mari a la porte' 1859 - Sadie 1992 3p709.jpg
The Salle Choiseul during a performance of Offenbach's Un mari à la porte (1859)
Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens (c. 1867) Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens Paris Illustre 1867 - GB.jpg
Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens (c. 1867)

In October Offenbach submitted another petition to the authorities, this time to merge his company with the Théâtre des Jeunes Élèves de Monsieur Comte (Théâtre Comte). This company's theatre, which was not much larger than the Salle Lacaze, was demolished, and the larger Salle Choiseul with a capacity of about 900 was constructed. The new theatre was not only larger, but warmer, more luxurious and more comfortable than the Salle Lacaze. The orchestra was enlarged from sixteen players to thirty. [8] Offenbach's new license permitted performances of one-act comedies, with or without music, but with fewer than five characters. It also specifically excluded sketches and required the performance of at least two works by composers other than Offenbach. The first performance of the merged company was on 29 December 1855 at the Salle Choiseul and included the premiere of Offenbach's Ba-ta-clan , a one-act chinoiserie musicale with a libretto by Halévy. From this time performances were primarily given at the Salle Choiseul during the winter theatre season. The company performed at the Salle Lacaze during the 1856, 1857 and 1859 summer seasons, [9] [10] however, in March 1861 legislation was enacted which prevented the company from using both theatres, and appearances at the Salle Lacaze were discontinued. [11] In spite of the restrictions of the license, Offenbach began including longer, more substantial works which violated its terms. For instance, his two-act Orphée aux enfers with a cast of 16 received its first performance at the Salle Choiseul on 21 October 1858. Even after Offenbach resigned as the director in January 1862, the company continued at the Salle Choiseul, performing light operas by other composers as well as Offenbach. [1] [2] [3] [12]

Upon the departure of Offenbach, the new director tore down the existing hall to erect a larger one with a capacity of 1100 spectators. [1]


While the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens is indelibly linked to Offenbach, it has also been the venue for a number of other important works. In addition to Offenbach's own operettas, the theatre has seen the premieres of musical works by Hervé, Emmanuel Chabrier and Claude Terrasse and playwrights such as Robert de Flers, Albert Willemetz, Sacha Guitry and Henri Bernstein.

From 1986 to 2007, the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens was under the directorship of Jean-Claude Brialy, who died of cancer in May 2007.

List of premieres

[14] [15]
[3] [16]
[3] [17]
[3] [19]
[3] [25]
[3] [26]
[3] [26]
[3] [27]
[3] [26]
[3] [28]
[3] [29]
[3] [31]
[3] [34]
[36] [37]
[38] [39]

List of directors

The Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens was founded as a private entrepreneurship. [52]

5 July 1855  Jacques Offenbach, Charles Comte [53]
3 February 1862  Alphonse Varney [53]
27 September 1864 Eugène Hanappier, Armand Lapoint [53]
17 September 1866 François Varcollier [53]
8 July 1867 Julien-Joseph-Henry Dupontavisse, Auguste Lefranc [53]
August 1868  Jules Noriac, Charles Comte [53]
1870 [Closed during the Franco-Prussian War] [54]
16 April 1871 Jules Noriac, Charles Comte [53]
1873 Charles Comte [53]
1877 Louis Cantin [53] [55]
15 October 1885  Delphine Ugalde [56]
1 September 1888 Charles (Carlo) A. Chizzola [57] [58]
1889  Oscar de Lagoanère [59]
1890 Félix Larcher [60]
1892 Charles Masset [61]
1893 Eugène Larcher [62]
1895  Georges Grisier [63]
1897 Michel-Amable Coudert [64]
1899 Coudert and Berny [65]
1900 Vildreux and Pezzani [66]
15 October 1901 André Lénéka [67]
1902 Lagoanère and Lénéka [68]
1904 Armand Bour [69]
1905 Monza and Darcour [70]
October 1906 Clot and Dublay [71]
1907 Deval and Richemond [72]
1909 Mme Cora-Laparcerie [73]
1913  Gustave Quinson [74] [75]
1927 Gustave Quinson, Albert Willemetz [76]
1929 Albert Willemetz [76]
1958 Nicky Nancel (Madame Mondavi) [74] [75]
1986  Jean-Claude Brialy [74]
2007 Bruno Finck [74]

Related Research Articles

<i>Orpheus in the Underworld</i> Opéra bouffon by Jacques Offenbach

Orpheus in the Underworld and Orpheus in Hell are English names for Orphée aux enfers, a comic opera with music by Jacques Offenbach and words by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. It was first performed as a two-act "opéra bouffon" at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, on 21 October 1858, and was extensively revised and expanded in a four-act "opéra féerie" version, presented at the Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris, on 7 February 1874.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacques Offenbach</span> German-born French composer (1819–1880)

Jacques Offenbach was a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the Romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s to the 1870s, and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.

<i>Le mariage aux lanternes</i>

Le mariage aux lanternes is an opérette in one act by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Michel Carré and Léon Battu.

<i>Le pont des soupirs</i> 1861 opéra bouffe by Jacques Offenbach

Le pont des soupirs is an opéra bouffe set in Venice, by Jacques Offenbach, first performed in Paris in 1861. The French libretto was written by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. Plays, including melodramas, set in Venice were quite common in Paris in the early 19th century; the libretto, by the successful team from Orphée aux enfers, also nods towards the operas La reine de Chypre (1841) and Haydée (1847). Gänzl describes the piece as being in Offenbach's "best bouffe manner", noting a "long list of sparkling and funny musical pieces": the multiple serenade beneath Catarina's balcony, the tale of the loss of the Venetian fleet, the parody of an operatic mad scene for Catarina, and a farcical "quatuor des poignards". Offenbach would return to Venice in the Giulietta act of his final work Les Contes d'Hoffmann.

<i>Les deux aveugles</i>

Les deux aveugles is an 1855 one-act French bouffonerie musicale (operetta) by Jacques Offenbach. The libretto was written by Jules Moinaux and was a condensation of his 3-act Les musiciens ambulants.

<i>Daphnis et Chloé</i> (Offenbach)

Daphnis et Chloé is a one-act opérette by Jacques Offenbach. The libretto was by Clairville and Jules Cordier, based on the story of Daphnis and Chloe. The origin is the novel by Longus adapted as a play at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in 1849.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Léonce (actor)</span> French actor and singer

Édouard-Théodore Nicole, known as Léonce, was a 19th-century French actor and singer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lise Tautin</span> French opera singer

Lise Tautin, was a French soprano, associated with the opéra-bouffe in Paris in the middle of the 19th century, particularly the works of Offenbach.

<i>Mesdames de la Halle</i>

Mesdames de la Halle is an opérette bouffe in one act by Jacques Offenbach, with a libretto by Armand Lapointe. It was first performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 3 March 1858. and was the first work of Offenbach's at the Bouffes with a chorus and a large cast. Gänzl describes the piece as "a delicious piece of Parisian bouffonerie"

<i>Le 66</i>

Le 66 is an opérette in one act of 1856 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Auguste Pittaud de Forges and Laurencin. Kurt Gänzl describes the work as "in the rustic vein of Le violoneux and Le mariage aux lanternes".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Théâtre de la Gaîté (rue Papin)</span> Former theatre in Paris, France

In 1862 during Haussmann's modernization of Paris, the Théâtre de la Gaîté of the boulevard du Temple was relocated to the rue Papin across from the Square des Arts et Métiers. The new theatre, built in an Italian style to designs of the architects Jacques-Ignace Hittorff and Alphonse Cusin, opened on 3 September.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Théâtre des Folies-Marigny</span>

The Théâtre des Folies-Marigny, a former Parisian theatre with a capacity of only 300 spectators, was built in 1848 by the City of Paris for a magician named Lacaze and was originally known as the Salle Lacaze. It was located at the east end of the Carré Marigny of the Champs-Élysées, close to the Avenue Marigny, but faced west toward the Cirque National on the other side of the square.

<i>Tromb-al-ca-zar, ou Les criminels dramatiques</i>

Tromb-al-ca-zar, ou Les criminels dramatiques is a bouffonnerie musicale in one act of 1856 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Charles-Désiré Dupeuty and Ernest Bourget. With its dialogue containing plays on words and stage business from contemporary Parisian dramas and operas, it is described by Kracauer as satirizing the romantic bandits of grand opera.

<i>Un mari à la porte</i>

Un mari à la porte is an opérette in one act of 1859 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Alfred Delacour and Léon Morand.

<i>La créole</i>

La créole is an opéra comique in three acts of 1875 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Albert Millaud, with additional material by Henri Meilhac. It was one of three full-length stage works written almost simultaneously that year, the others being La Boulangère a des écus and Le Voyage dans la lune.

<i>Une demoiselle en loterie</i>

Une demoiselle en loterie is a one-act opérette bouffe of 1857 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Adolphe Jaime and Hector Crémieux.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Théâtre Comte</span>

The Théâtre Comte, also called Théâtre des Jeunes-Élèves, was a Parisian entertainment venue founded by the ventriloquist and magician Louis Comte in 1820. The building was located in the passage des Panoramas of the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.

Eugène Gaston Mestépès was a 19th-century French librettist, playwright and theatre director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henri Tayau</span> French opera singer

Henri Tayau was an operetta singer and actor, and violinist, who during a short but successful career performed many light tenor roles in opéra-bouffes of Offenbach, and created several roles, the most notable being that of Orphée in Offenbach's greatest success, Orphée aux Enfers.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Bouffes-Parisien website Archived 18 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine .
  2. 1 2 3 Lamb, Andrew. "Offenbach, Jacques" in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, pp. 653658.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Levin 2009, pp. 401402.
  4. Galignani 1862, p. 470.
  5. Dickens 1882, p. 32.
  6. Lamb ( "Offenbach, Jacques" in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, p. 653) gives the capacity of the Salle Lacaze as 300. Gammond (1980, p. 37) says it held an audience of only 50.
  7. Faris 1980, pp. 51–52.
  8. Lamb ( "Offenbach, Jacques" in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, p. 653) gives the capacity of 900; Faris (1980, pp. 52–53) provides an extensive quote from the periodical Le Ménestrel describing the demolition and reconstruction of the theatre and the size of the orchestra.
  9. Yon 2000, pp. 760–762.
  10. During the summer of 1858 the company went on tour, and Offenbach sublet the Salle Lacaze to Jean-Charles Deburau (Yon 2000, p. 201). During the summer of 1860 the company performed in Brussels and Lyon. Offenbach himself went to Berlin to supervise the rehearsals and conduct the Berlin premiere of Orphée aux enfers at the Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater on 23 June 1860 (Yon 2000, pp. 232–233).
  11. Levin 2009, p. 401.
  12. Lamb, Andrew. "Orphée aux enfers" in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, pp. 774776.
  13. Fétis/Pougin (1880).
  14. Gänzl 2001, pp. 360–362.
  15. Lamb, Andrew. "Hervé" in Sadie 1992, vol. 2, p. 708.
  16. Gänzl 2001, p. 722.
  17. "Lecocq, [Alexandre] Charles" in Gänzl 2001, pp. 1165–1168.
  18. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1602–1603.
  19. Gänzl 2001, pp. 590–591.
  20. Traubner 2003, p. 91; Gänzl 2001, pp. 1494–1495.
  21. The date of the premiere is given as 16 March 1880 by Andrew Lamb "Varney, Louis" in Sadie 1992, vol. 4, p. 901 (see also OCLC   457931152), but as 16 May 1880 by Levin 2009, p. 402.
  22. Traubner 2003, p. 91; Gänzl 2001, pp. 1341–1343.
  23. Gänzl 2001, pp. 763–764.
  24. Klein, Axel: O'Kelly - An Irish Musical Family in Nineteenth-Century France (Norderstedt 2014). ISBN   978-3-7357-2310-9.
  25. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1038–1040.
  26. 1 2 3 "Pugno, [Stéphane] Raoul" in Gänzl 2001, p. 1662.
  27. "Roger, Victor" in Gänzl 2001, pp. 1733–1734.
  28. "Messager, André" in Gänzl 2001, pp. 1379–1382.
  29. Charlton, David. "Vidal, Paul (Antonin)" in Sadie 1992, vol. 4, pp. 987–988.
  30. Gänzl 2001, p. 1297.
  31. Gänzl 2001, p. 1307.
  32. Gänzl 2001, pp. 581–582.
  33. Gänzl 2001, p. 530.
  34. Gänzl 2001, p. 1490.
  35. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1660–1662.
  36. Wagstaff 1992.
  37. Gänzl 2001, pp. 2126–2127.
  38. Charlton, David. "Terrasse, Claude (Antoine)" in Sadie 1992, vol. 4, p. 700.
  39. Gänzl 2001, pp. 2067–2068.
  40. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1611–1613.
  41. Gänzl 2001, pp. 480–482.
  42. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1139–1140.
  43. Gänzl 2001, p. 457.
  44. Gänzl 2001, p. 578.
  45. Gänzl 2001, p. 2079.
  46. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1625–1626.
  47. Gänzl 2001, pp. 2077–2078.
  48. Gänzl 2001, pp. 1008–1009.
  49. Gänzl 2001, p. 668.
  50. Gänzl 2001, p. 87.
  51. Gänzl 2001, pp. 2056–2057.
  52. Levin indicates that the company was a private entrepreneurship from its founding in 1855 up until 1885, which is the extent of her coverage of the topic. See Table 16.8. "Chronology and administration of the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens company" in Levin 2009, p. 399.
  53. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Levin 2009, p. 399.
  54. Levin 2009, p. 399, indicates that the theatre was closed. The company's website states that the closure was due to the Franco-Prussian War. (See "Historique" at the Bouffes-Parisiens website Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine , retrieved 20 August 2011).
  55. "Cantin, Louis" in Gänzl 2001, pp. 308–309. According to Gänzl, Cantin gave up his directorship in 1885.
  56. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1885, p. 62.
  57. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1888, p. 56 Archived 18 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine .
  58. Chizzola was an Italian manager-impresario, managed Tommaso Salvini on tour in the US in 1873-4. See Carlson, Marvin A. (1985). The Italian Shakespearians: Performances by Ristori, Salvini, and Rossi in England and America. Associated University Presses. pp. 48, 56–8. ISBN   9780918016768.
  59. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1889, p. 57.
  60. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1890, p. 58; Le Boulevard: Croquis Parisiens 1893, p. 191.
  61. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1892, p. 64; Le Boulevard: Croquis Parisiens 1893, p. 191.
  62. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1893, p. 66; Almanach Hachette 1895, p. 452.
  63. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1895, p. 69; Gänzl 2001, p. 1490.
  64. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1897, p. 57; Bulletin officiel 1899, vol. 65, p. 352.
  65. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1899, p. 65.
  66. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1900, p. 63.
  67. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1901, p. 71; Martin 1901, p. 404.
  68. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1902, p. 68.
  69. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1904, p. 69.
  70. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1905, p. 76.
  71. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1906, p. 78.
  72. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1907, p. 81.
  73. Almanach des spectacles. Année 1909, p. 78.
  74. 1 2 3 4 "Historique" at the Bouffes-Parisiens website Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine , retrieved 20 August 2011.
  75. 1 2 "Les Théâtres parisiens: Bouffes-Parisiens" Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine at the website Encyclopédie multimedia de la comédie musicale, 1918–1940, retrieved 20 August 2011.
  76. 1 2 Gänzl 2001, p. 2198.

Coordinates: 48°52′06″N2°20′07″E / 48.8684°N 2.3354°E / 48.8684; 2.3354