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Theatre de Château de Cirey

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(detail)1734 | Constructed by Voltaire for Madame du Châtelet

History

"Voltaire's Little Theater at the Chateau de Cirey is of special historic value and is one of the few remaining examples of the of the early theaters in France. 

It is likely that there are thirty court and private chateau theaters in existence in France today, and many of these are in a critical state. Thus, it is fortunate that Voltaire's Little Theater at was restored in 1999. 

Earliest Remaining Private Theater 


The Little Theater at Cirey is one of the oldest stages in France and was built in 1735. Except for the prestigious Opéra de Versailles (1770) and the charming Queen's Theater in the Petit Trianon of Versailles (1780), there are no other private 18th century theaters in France. The little theater was used in the first half of the 19th century, and has undergone some changes. 

The true architectural origin of the French theater dates from the second half of the 18th century. It is rare to find a theatrical structure used uniquely for plays before this date. Until the mid 1700's, there were few theaters and the existing ones were poorly designed for performances. It is paradoxical that France, a country which valued theater as a part of its national culture, was so slow to develop theatrical architecture comparable to Italy. 

Voltaire himself complained about the state of affairs after the failure of one of his plays "Semiramis," performed in Paris in 1748. He attributed the failure of the play to the sad state of the performance hall of the Comedie Francaise. Although it would be ten years before the French would create theaters based on the Italian model, Voltaire moved quickly to build an appropriate theater at Cirey. 

Despite its small size, Voltaire's Little Theater has all of the necessary characteristics for a successful performance. Voltaire designed the stage at Cirey to only be used by the actors. At that time in France, spectators who were more interested in being seen than watching the play, were allowed to sit at the left and right sides of the stage. There was box seating to provide the best view possible, and the theater had permanent scenery that provided a background setting for performances. 

And most significantly, this is the only existing theater created by Voltaire, one of France's most noted writers of plays for the theater. The Théâtre des Délices and the Théâtre de Ferney which he created after his departure from Cirey no longer exist. Therefore the Théâtre de Cirey is of incomparable historic value. "

 

The text is a quotation from the page :http://www.visitvoltaire.com/little_theater.htm   

 

 

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