From 1830 to 1860, the Parisian theater scene was going through great changes. Trends in theater were moving from classical drama, a highly respected, traditional art form dating back to ancient times, to a more experimental form that no longer respected the three classical unities of time, place and action. This new form of theater targeted middle-class, bourgeois audiences instead of only being accessible to the upper echelons of society.
Because this era represents an especially interesting time for French cultural life, the Musée de la vie romantique (Museum of Romantic Life — romantic in the literary sense) has dedicated an entire exhibition to it, entitled Romantic Theater in Paris. The Musée de la vie romantique is located in a neighborhood that is full of theaters, so it is the perfect place to discover Parisian theater and then maybe even go see a play yourself.
The exhibit includes paintings and photographs of the most famous actors and actresses of the time — the equivalent of today’s modern stars being plastered on magazine covers — as well as paintings of backstage scenery and plays being performed. One of the most interesting parts of the exhibit is the collection of real costumes from the era. Jewelry, crowns, gowns and slippers glitter and gleam from under glass cases.
A myriad of genres are represented, including melodrama, drama, grand opera and narrative ballet. Plus, the last section of the exhibit revolves around pieces representing vaudeville and variety acts, considered to be for the lower classes of the time. Over 100 works have been borrowed from the reputed collection of the Musée Carnavalet in order to bring this exhibit, going on until July 15, 2012, to life.
For any guests staying at the Hotel Louvre Marsollier who ever wondered what it might be like to take the stage in Paris, this exhibit is a must-see.
Musée de la vie romantique
16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
Metro: Saint Georges / Pigalle / Blanche / Liège
Open every day except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.