Music at Theatre Royal | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music at Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal or Royal-Molson (1825-44)Theatre Royal. Name given to four Montreal theatres which succeeded each other between 1825 and 1913 but at different locations.

Theatre Royal or Royal-Molson (1825-44)

Theatre Royal. Name given to four Montreal theatres which succeeded each other between 1825 and 1913 but at different locations.

Erected on St-Paul Street by a company of which the brewer and financier John Molson was the principal, and subsequently, the only shareholder. It was the first hall in Canada dedicated exclusively to the performing arts, and above all to the theatre. During the summer of 1840, the company of the English bass Arthur Séguin presented an important season of opera there, including works by Mozart, Auber, Rossini and Bellini. The works were sung in English, undoubtedly in abbreviated or revised versions as was the custom of the day. In August of 1843, a company from New Orleans, directed by the vocalist Julie Calvé presented the works of Adam, Auber, Donizetti and others in French. The theatre was demolished in 1844 to make room for the Bonsecours market.

Royal Olympic (1844-47)

This hall was located at Place Jacques-Cartier near Notre-Dame Street. The principal musical event of its brief existence was the visit of the Italian comic opera bass Giuseppe de Begnis and the singer Rosina Pico in September of 1845.

Theatre Royal or Royal-Hays (1847-52)

Located in Dalhousie Square in the public building of the same name, it in its turn welcomed, in 1847-8, the Séguin company in a repertoire which included the works of Adam, Bellini, and Weber. In 1850 the vocalist Anna Bishop gave concerts there with the French harpist Bochsa. In June of the same year the Germania Music Society, a German orchestra of 25 young musicians, gave a successful concert. The theatre was completely destroyed by fire in 1852 at the time of the great fire.

Theatre Royal or Royal-Côté (1852-1913)

This hall, seating 1500, located on Côté Street, was inaugurated by a touring French theatre company. The popular Irish singer, Catherine Hayes, was also on the program on this occasion. In 1852 the Germania Orchestra gave nine concerts in two weeks. The young Calixa Lavallée was a frequent visitor to the theatre, accompanied by his patron Léon Derome, and may even have performed there. It was in this hall that he conducted a production of Boieldieu's La Dame Blanche in 1878. Great stars, such as the singer Adelina Patti and the violinist Ole Bull, also appeared there. Following the construction of other theatres in the upper town, the Royal-Côté lost its prestige over the years; at the time of its closure in 1913 only burlesque and vaudeville companies were appearing there.

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