French Opera Theater, 1895−96 Season


Founded in Montreal in 1893, the professional troupe of the Théâtre de l'Opéra Français (French Opera Theater) moved to the Théâtre Français (French Theater), a renovated and electrified auditorium, one year later. The new venue was located at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint-Dominique Street. In a context in which Quebec still had very few local professional artists and where theatrical and musical repertoire was primarily Anglophone, comedies, dramas, and operettas of the Théâtre de l'Opéra Français delighted the French-speaking Montrealers. Consisting of singers and actors from France, the troupe featured the baritone Vandiric and such prima donnas such as Madame Essiani, Madame Bennati, and Madame Conti-Bessi. It included 25 instrumentalists and 24 choristers. Its repertoire consisted of lyrical and dramatic performances. The 1895−96 season proved to be both the most ambitious and the most difficult, ending prematurely with a scandal. On the evening of February 12, 1896, after a long delay, a singer came onstage to explain to the audience that large amounts of pay were due to the artists and that consequently the scheduled performance of The Barber of Seville would not take place. The public and the press were indignant at the plight of the artists and collected the necessary funds to enable them to return to France. However, some artists chose to remain in Montreal and were among the masters who gradually gave way to local professional artists at the dawn of the 20th century.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Laprès & Lavergne, Montréal


Title in Original Language

Théâtre de l'Opéra Français, Saison 1895−96

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 sheet : portraits ; 20 x 26 centimeters

Last updated: June 19, 2017