Théâtre de l' Hôtel de Bourgogne

Definition

Theater

  • The first permanent public theater in Paris. Many of the mostfamous plays of the 17th century were produced there, including thoseof Racine and Corneille.

    The theater was constructed by the Confrérie dela Passion in 1548 on the ruins of the former palace of the Dukesof Burgundy. It accommodated about 1000 people in its long and narrowspace: a platform stage occupied one end, while a smaller upper stagewas used to operate mechanical devices. There was a large pit forstanding playgoers, with tiers of benches behind and boxes at theside. Performances, lit by candles, were presented in multiplesetting.

    Forbidden to perform religious plays and unable to surviveon farces and romances, the Confrérie had to hire the theaterout to travelling troupes from France and Italy. In the early 17thcentury Valleran-Lecomte's company made the venue the best in Paris,a position that remained unchallenged until 1634 when the Théâtredu Marais opened. In 1647 the Hôtel de Bourgogne expanded itsstage, added a front curtain, and copied the seating arrangementsof the Marais.

    More competition arrived in 1658 when Molière becamea favourite of Louis XIV and occupied the Salle du Petit-Bourbon,moving two years later to the Palais-Royal. In 1665 he quarrelledwith Racine for letting the Hôtel de Bourgogne company producethe latter's Alexandre le Grand a fortnight after it hadopened at the Palais-Royal.

    In 1680 the companies of the Hôtel de Bourgogne andthe Théâtre du Marais troupe merged to create the Comédie-Française.The venue was later used by the Comédie-Italiennefrom 1680 to 1783.

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