Comédie-Italienne - The Théâtre-Lyrique Italien or Opéra-Italien

The Théâtre-Lyrique Italien or Opéra-Italien

The first operas shown in Paris (in the mid-17th century) had been Italian; however, Italian opera was quickly abandoned in favour of French opera, as witnessed by the creation of the Académie Royale de Musique. Despite this, over the course of the 18th century, Italian musical performers came to Paris. In particular, in 1752, performances of the opera buffa La serva padrona led to the Querelle des Bouffons, a debate about the relative superiorities of French and Italian musical traditions.

In 1787, after the particular success of one troupe of Italian singers, came the idea of establishing a resident theatrical company for opera buffa. This initiative became reality in January 1789 with the founding of the Théâtre de Monsieur company, which was soon put under the auspices of the Count of Provence, the king's brother, and derived its name from the Count. They first performed at the Tuileries Palace theatre, before moving to the Théâtre Feydeau. However, in 1792, this theatre closed upon the departure of the company.

The Théâtre-Italien de Paris was reformed in 1801, this time for performing opera seria as well as opera buffa. This new company took residence at the Salle Favart, then at the Salle Louvois. In 1808, the singers moved to the Théâtre de l'Odéon, at that time called the "Théâtre de l'Impératrice". They stayed there until 1815.

At the time of the Bourbon Restoration, King Louis XVIII wanted to entrust the theatre to the soprano Angelica Catalani. Almost everything was set for the transfer, when the return of Napoleon and his reign of a Hundred Days disrupted the King's plans. The actors therefore stayed a little longer at the Théâtre de l'Impératrice. Upon the restoration of King Louis XVIII to power, Madame Catalani joined the troupe. However, she soon went on a tour across Europe, leaving control of the theatre to Ferdinando Paër.

In 1818, Madame Catalani's privilège, or royal permission to perform, was revoked, and the theatre shut down. It was then decided to hand over administration of the theatre, now known as the "Théâtre royal italien", to the Academie Royale de Musique, while maintaining the autonomy of each establishment. This system only lasted until 1827, when the theatre regained its independence from the crown and lost the appellation "royal". The Théâtre-Italien later made known the works of William Shakespeare to the Parisian public.

The Théâtre-Italien presented works by Ferdinando Paër, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Domenico Cimarosa, and especially the grand operas by Gioacchino Rossini, who had first come to Paris in 1823. It also saw the premiere of Rossini's Stabat Mater. The Théâtre-Italien also produced popular works by Giacomo Meyerbeer and Giuseppe Verdi, but the theatre was later forced to close in 1878.

Despite the closing of the Théâtre-Italien, operas continued to be performed in Paris, sometimes at the Théâtre de la Gaîté or the Théâtre du Châtelet, but especially at the Opéra.

Read more about this topic:  Comédie-Italienne