Text: Aidan Mac Guill
The Théâtre de la Gaîté Lyrique first opened in its current location on the rue Papin in 1862. That incarnation was itself a reconstruction of the original Théâtre de la Gaîté, which had opened on the boulevard du Temple in 1808, but was destroyed in the construction of the boulevard Voltaire. That itself had been what would nowadays be termed a “rebranding” of the first theatre to be erected on that spot, the Théâtre des Grands-Danseurs du Roi, which first opened in 1792. Which, we can all agree, is a very long time ago.
Over the years the Gaîté played host to numerous premieres, from the first operettas of cellist Jacques Offenbach to the ballets russes of Serge Diaghilev, as well as productions by Willy Thunis, Patrice Chéreau and concerts by the tenor Luis Mariano. In 1974 the actress Silvia Monfort turned the Gaîté into Paris’ first centre for street theatre. In 1989 it briefly became an ill-fated, science-themed amusement park, following which, bankrupt and in near-fatal disrepair, it lay dormant for 20 years.
In 2010 it was re-opened as a centre for digital arts and modern music, and has become one of Paris’ most cherished performance spaces. With an enviable program spanning various genres and specialist festivals it’s well worth checking out what’s on.
3 bis Rue Papin, 75003 Paris
Ph. 01 53 01 52 00
Hours: Tue-Sat 2-8pm, Sun 12-6pm
Metro: Réaumur-Sebastopol (3,4)