Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back when the audience danced

Today I came across a blog written by Olivia Hughes with some incredible facts about the history of the Manoel Theatre that I would like to share with you.

"Located in Old Theatre Street, this fascinating purpose built baroque building is an architectural jewel. It is said to be the third oldest theatre in Europe still in use and the oldest theatre in the Commonwealth. It dates back to the earlier decades of the eighteenth century, when the Grandmaster of the Knights of St. John of that time, Antonio Manoel de Vilhena decided in 1731 to build a public theatre for the honest recreation of the people according to the Latin inscription above the doorway. The 650-seat auditorium is quite unlike a conventional 20th century theatre, originally u-shaped it was transformed to an oval at the beginning of the 19th century. With a tiny stage and orchestra pit, the stalls seat only 272, but above them and beneath the gilded ceiling and magnificent crystal chandelier are three full tiers of boxes, including one very discreet grand-master's box. Beneath the theatre are two wells that serve to give the exceptional acoustics for which the theatre is renowned. The original theatre was smaller than the present one, as today's gallery and proscenium were added in 1812. It was also narrower, as boxes were also situated on the ground floor. Patrons in those far off days used to dance to the pieces in production, so the parterre would be illuminated during performances. All the delicate frescoes are of Mediterranean scenes bordered in 22-carat gold leaf. Originally it was called Public Theatre, later it bore the title Theatre Royal but, eventually in 1866 in tribute to its founder, it became and has remained the Manoel Theatre."

Read the rest on Olivia's blog


  1. hey babe.. i can hardly read the blog.. the lay out isnt helping out :S

  2. Billy, I can't seem to get it to work on Explorer. It seems to work perfectly on Safari.