Théâtre de Société

Théâtre de Société. Enterprise devoted to drama and opera; it was founded in Montreal in 1789 and located in the residence of Louis Dulongpré. Dulongpré was a painter and teacher of music and dance who emigrated from France in 1778.

Théâtre de Société

Théâtre de Société. Enterprise devoted to drama and opera; it was founded in Montreal in 1789 and located in the residence of Louis Dulongpré. Dulongpré was a painter and teacher of music and dance who emigrated from France in 1778. A detailed contract, signed 11 Nov 1789 by Dulongpré and six citizens, including Joseph Quesnel, specified 'that the said Mr. Dulompré [sic] will supply three complete sets, painted on canvas, to the Théâtre de Société, which will be set up in his house...[He] will supply either candles or lanterns necessary for lighting the said theatre; the three abovementioned sets will represent a room, a forest, and a street...[He] will pay for the music, the wig-maker, the tickets, cost of programs, theatre attendants...The said Mr. Dulompré is also required to have the theatre ready several days before a performance, as well as providing the lighting and musicians required for rehearsals.' The theatre opened 24 Nov 1789 with Le Retour imprévu, a comedy by Regnard, which was followed by Florian's Deux Billets, 'a one-act prose comedy with ariettas.' Les Deux Chasseurs et la laitière was performed there 29 Dec 1789. The first productions of Quesnel's Colas et Colinette were given in the theatre on 14 Jan 1790, and of Didbin's The Padlock and Shield's The Poor Soldier on 22 Apr 1790. The Théâtre de Société does not seem to have been active subsequently, at least not before November 1795, when it presented Le Barbier de Séville and Le Retour imprévu. Other works and comic operas were performed in November 1796 and January 1797 (revivals of Deux chasseurs et la laitière and of Deux billets). The theatre then numbered 120 subscribers. Reference is made to the Théâtre de Société in La Gazette de Québec again in 1804 and 1805 but it is not specifically known as to whether the founding members from 1789 were still active. The Théâtre de Société helped to create a climate for the arts in Montreal.On 23 Dec 1790, however, in a letter to La Gazette, a citizen publicly denounced the management for trying to make social distinctions in its seating arrangements and 'to limit admittance to the parterre to a small number of persons of good birth or of the nobility.'


Further Reading

  • 'Théâtre de Société à Montréal,' Quebec Gazette, 31 Jan 1805

    Massicotte, É.-Z. 'Un théâtre à Montréal en 1789,' BRH, vol 23, Jun 1917

    Hare, John E. 'Le Théâtre de Société à Montréal, 1789-1791,' Bulletin du Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-francaise, vol 16, Apr 1978

    Cooper, Dorith R. 'Opera in Montreal and Toronto : a study of performance traditions and repertoire 1783-1980,' PH D thesis, University of Toronto 1983

    Amtmann Musique au Québec