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Unintended consequences: Theatre deregulation and opera in France, 1864–1878

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2012


The French legislation of 6 January 1864 which deregulated spoken and lyric theatre nationwide showed little sensitivity to the distinctive financial ecology of regional theatre. Its effects were precisely the opposite of those its architects intended, and caused most disruption to the very constituencies the legislation was intended to help. Comparative analysis of the immediate aftermath of this ‘liberté des théâtres’ reveals a state of near chaos across France. Town councils oscillated between abandoning to the market their traditions of theatre as artistic social service, and pouring in yet more taxpayers' money just to maintain the status quo. Opera, as the most expensive art form, was the immediate casualty, ceding considerable ground to a vigorous entertainment sector based around the operetta repertory (including opéra-bouffe) and the café-concert chanson.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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1 This essay is a complement to two others: ‘Systems Failure in Operatic Paris: The Acid Test of the Théâtre-Lyrique’, in Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830–1914, ed. Everist, Mark and Fauser, Annegret (Chicago, 2009), 4971Google Scholar; and ‘Funding Opera in Regional France: Ideologies of the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, in Art and Ideology in European Opera, ed. Brown, Clive, Cooper, David and Cowgill, Rachel (Woodbridge, 2010), 6784Google Scholar. Its research was aided by an AHRC Small Grant in the Creative and Performing Arts and a British Academy Research Development Award. I am also grateful to the British Academy and to the Research Committee of Royal Holloway, University of London, for funding my attendance at the American Musicological Society Annual Meeting, Washington 2006, where I shared this work in its first incarnation.

2 La Publicité: revue immobilière, industrielle, commerciale, critique et théâtrale, 9, no. 369 (7 January 1864), [2].

3 For an insight into the Napoleonic system in force from 1806 (repealing the ‘liberté’ of 1791), see Bould, Howard, ‘The Lyric Theatre in Provincial France (1789–1914)’, Ph.D. diss. (University of Hull, 2005), 6171Google Scholar.

4 ‘une industrie comme une autre’. La Publicité, 9, no. 369 (7 January 1864), [2].

5 On debates prior to the ‘liberté’, see my ‘Funding Grand Opera’. For an analysis of its effects in smaller towns working the arrondissement system, see Féret, Romuald, ‘Le décret du 6 janvier 1864: la liberté des théâtres ou l'affirmation d'une politique culturelle municipale’, in Les Spectacles sous le Second Empire, ed. Yon, Jean-Claude (Paris, 2010), 5160Google Scholar.

6 First, there were not enough theatres for them in Paris, and second, those theatres could present only their contractually allotted genres (which meant those genres were effectively pre-defined). Even with the advent of the much more flexible Théâtre-Lyrique in 1851, the supply of young opera composers outstripped the capacity or willingness of the capital's theatre managers to stage their works. It was hardly a recipe for innovation. See my ‘Systems Failure’, passim, and ‘Funding Grand Opera’, 68.

7 The most famous manager of the period, Olivier Halanzier-Dufrenoy, was especially energetic in neutralising competition, both in Rouen in 1860 and (with less success) in Marseille six years later. Arch. Dépt Seine-Maritime, 4 T 99 (Rouen) and Arch. Mun. Marseille 77 R 37. See also the battle of 1862–3 between Biche-Latour, manager at the Grand-Théâtre in Bordeaux (who sought to establish a café-concert as a complementary business), and Martial Léglise, director of the well-established Alcazar café-concert on the other side of the river (Arch. Dépt Gironde 167 T 14, folder Correspondance 1863). From 1859 to 1864 successive directors of the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes successfully blocked the running of the Théâtre des Variétés, despite the building being privately owned (Arch. Dépt. Loire-Atlantique 177 T 8).

8 Halanzier was an exception: for him the débuts season was a cornerstone of his business plan because it was so popular that ticket revenues gave him a financial buffer for the rest of the season. See his open letter of 27 August 1863 printed in the Sémaphore de Marseille the following day (36, no. 10,900 (28 August 1863), [2]). Halanzier's case compares usefully with that of Raphaël Félix, brother of the tragic actress Rachel, whose disastrous tenure at Lyon ended in riots in September 1865 after he persuaded the préfet and the council to abolish the requirement for ‘débuts’ on the basis of both the 1864 legislation and the new designation of the Lyon theatre as ‘Impérial’. He saw this priceless new title as indicating that Lyon should now take its cues from Paris, where different traditions prevailed. See Archives Municipales, Lyon, 88 WP 006 (folder 20). On Lyon more generally, see Gersin, Malincha, ‘Les Spectacles à Lyon sous le Second Empire: stabilisation locale et débat national sur les “débuts”’, in Les spectacles sous le Second Empire, ed. Yon, Jean-Claude (Paris, 2010), 290302Google Scholar. Gersin sees widespread ‘stabilisation’, in the form of downsizing of various kinds, as characteristic of regional provision, but does not link the acceleration of such downsizing to the perverse effects of a ‘liberté’ promulgated to do precisely the opposite.

9 The mayors usually won: in various guises, regional débuts survived the legislation by at least fifty years in most of the major French towns, often being voted on by secret committee ballot rather than by an entire audience.

10 Discussed at length by Lomon, A. in La France musicale, 26/1 (5 January 1862), 23Google Scholar.

11 A good sample of such pamphlets is collected in Archives Nationales (henceforth AN) F21 954 and 955.

12 By far the most detailed response was unofficial: the Rouennais Malliot, Antoine-Louis's La musique au théâtre (Paris, 1863)Google Scholar, which responded clause by clause to the consultation document, recommending continued opera subsidy, expanded educational opportunity, and state funding for regional theatres. On Malliot, see my ‘Funding Grand Opera’, 80–3.

13 Delpit, Albert, ‘La liberté des théâtres’, Revue des deux mondes (1 February 1898), 601–23, at 602Google Scholar. Delpit names Camille Doucet, then overseeing theatre regulation at the Maison de l'Empéreur, as fighting courageously against the legislation, but he is most likely mistaken. It was Charles Blanc, Directeur des Beaux-Arts, who is reported in 1864 as having opposed it (anonymous mention in Le Messager des théâtres, 2/92 (29 January 1849)).

14 Report of 5 December 1878 from Ch. Pottier, manager of the Grand-Théâtre in Bordeaux, on the consequences of the liberté. Arch. Dépt. Gironde 167 T 15. Despite the obvious benefits of using nuanced generic terminology to identify the various forms of light opera, for the remainder of this essay I follow the majority of 1860s and 1870s commentators and simply use the term ‘operetta’ (opérette).

15 See my ‘Funding Grand Opera’, 71–7.

16 One Toulousain supporter signed off his theatres review in blind faith: ‘On this question as on all others, let's trust fearlessly in Liberty's beneficial inspiration.’ [Sur cette question comme sur toutes les autres, confions-nous sans crainte au souffle bienfaisant de la Liberté.] ‘E. V.’ of the Revue de Toulouse et du Midi de la France, vol. 19 (1864/1) [February 1864], 153–8, at 158.

17 ‘Les théâtres qui paraîtront particulièrement dignes d'encouragement pourront être subventionnés soit par l'État, soit par les communes.’ Decree of 6 January 1864. Article 1, paragraph 2, given in Le Moniteur universel (7 January 1864), n.p.

18 ‘En supprimant les privilèges et les monopoles, en donnant à tous les théâtres le droit exclusivement réservé naguère à la Comédie-Française et à l'Odéon, de représenter librement les chefs-d'œuvre de l'ancien répertoire, la législation nouvelle a voulu encore élever en France le niveau artistique et littéraire.’ Speech of 4 August 1864, cited in Pierre, Constant, Le Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation (Paris, 1900), 965Google Scholar.

19 ‘prévoir les difficultés que pourrait soulever l'application du Décret du 6 Janvier dernier’. The new circular was widely published in the press and is also conserved in AN: F21 1330 ‘Circulaires’.

20 ‘Comment espérer en effet, qu'il puisse se fonder sérieusement des exploitations libres, en concurrence avec celles qui sont si généreusement subventionnées? … – C'est une dérogation formelle aux véritables principes économiques de l'égalité commerciale, de la libre concurrence, récemment consacrée, même pour nos relations avec l'étranger, par les derniers traités de commerce. – Subventionner isolément un industriel quelconque, à l'instant vous annihilierez toutes les autres exploitations de la même industrie.’ Draft letter of 1864 or early 1865 to Senate: Arch. de la Société des Compositeurs de Musique (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musique, Rés. 995).

21 Le Messager des théâtres, 17/4 (14 January 1864), [3]; and (more explicitly), 17/7 (24 January 1864), [1].

22 With the benefit of some fourteen years of hindsight, Agénor Bardoux's consultation document of 1878 in preparation for new legislation would make explicit that he sought to support three distinct interests: art, the public and artists (AN F21 1330 ‘Circulaires’). The 1864 legislation demonstrated no recognition that these interests might exist, still less that they might conflict, and in different ways in different parts of the country.

23 ‘[J]e ne puis penser à l'abdication complète de l'État, sans apercevoir l'art aventuré dans un océan plein d'écueils et de courants inconnus, jamais détruit, sans doute, mais souvent ravalé, sujet à des avaries sans nombre. Certains genres périraient assurément, et ce seraient les plus nobles et les plus relevés. Tout tendrait à se faire petit ou moyen, pour mieux s'accommoder aux besoins du goût général.’ Bertrand, Gustave, ‘Études d'économie théâtrale. Les théâtres lyriques de Paris, I’, Revue moderne, 36/1–2 (1 January–1 February 1866), 93105Google Scholar; vol. 37/2 (1 May 1866), 299–318, at 102.

24 ‘La suppression de la subvention de l'Opéra-Comique a été vivement discutée. Il est vraiment regrettable que tous les ans le subside accordé à notre théâtre national soit remis en question. Il nous semble qu'en présence de l'envahissement du genre opérette, qui est un fléau pour la musique, il serait plus logique d'augmenter la subvention de l'Opéra-Comique que de la supprimer.’ L'Art musical, 12/50 (11 December 1873), 397–8. Unsigned.

25 Orphée aux Enfers (Bouffes-Parisiennes), La Vie parisienne (Palais-Royal), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Variétés). For more detail on Paris, see my ‘Systems Failure in Operatic Paris’, 64–9.

26 Hemmings, F. W. J., Theatre and State in France, 1760–1905 (Cambridge, 1994), 202CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 ‘Il n'est pas de médaille sans revers; il n'est pas d'excellente mesure qui ne présente au prime-d'abord quelques dangers, quelques inconvénients … Nous avons été des premiers à nous féliciter de la salutaire et providentielle initiative prise par l'Empereur au sujet de la liberté des théâtres, des premiers à applaudir sincèrement, sans restriction, à une idée aussi libérale, qui, faisant tous les citoyens égaux devant l'art, abolissait d'un seul coup l'étrange coutume des privilèges et des monopoles, incompatible avec notre époque … Mais ce concert de louanges pourrait-il être aussi unanime si, en quittant un moment la capitale, on se prenait à examiner le sort déjà dès à présent assez triste et décourageant des scènes départementales, notamment des scènes lyriques … Nous le croyons pas; et sans essayer un seul moment de blâmer la nouvelle mesure, nous tâcherons d'indiquer brièvement en quoi elle pourrait être nuisible à l'art, si une puissante intervention ne venait à la mitiger par son application.’ ‘RALPH’ (pavillon neutre used by Léon Escudier, Mark de Thémines/Achille de Lauzières and Gustave Chouquet) in L'art musical, 4/22 (28 April 1864), 169.

28 ‘Si, dans les départements, la situation des théâtres a reçu quelque atteinte, c'est que, là surtout, une transformation complète était nécessaire et que le décret du 5 janvier ne peut produire qu'avec le temps les heureux résultats que l'administration est en droit d'en espérer.’ Cited in Bossuet, Pierre, Histoire des théâtres nationaux (Paris, 1909), 482Google Scholar.

29 L'Art musical, 4/22 (28 April 1864), 169–71 at 170.

30 Juclier had a long and successful association with Bordeaux from 1848 to 1855, starting with his establishment of a co-operative in the wake of the February revolution. But in the absence of municipal subsidy the 1864 legislation was, for him as for Halanzier, a step too far. Arch. Dépt. Seine-Maritime 4 T 93, folder Juclier.

31 The highest bidder withdrew at interview; the eventual winner of the contract was bankrupt within weeks. Arch. Dépt. Seine-Maritime 4 T 94.

32 ‘c'est une mesure que je vous laisse apprécier.’ Report from G. Duchemin, Le Messager des théâtres, 17/29 (14 April 1864).

33 ‘Il est à présumer que les municipalitiés des autres villes de la province imiteront celle de Marseille.’ L'Art musical (28 April 1864), 170.

34 For an attack on the way cultural pride caused secondary towns to take on ‘grands airs’ by aspiring to present genres that were beyond their capacities, see Carmouche, Pierre-François-Adolphe, Le Théâtre en province (Paris, 1859), 20, 24Google Scholar. By contrast he recommended that theatre directors be required to present spoken theatre (ibid., 33).

35 There was also the question of wasting considerable investment, which was the argument Marseille councillors used when acceding to Husson's request in May 1875 to receive advances on his 1875–6 subsidy. Meeting of 27 May 1875, Arch. Mun. Marseille, 77 R 38.

36 Hemmings, Theatre and State, 174–5.

37 ‘une faveur.’ L. G. G. in La Publicité, 10, no. 455 (9 November 1865), [1].

38 Letter of 11 December 1864 from mayor of Lille to mayor of Nantes. Arch. Mun. Nantes, 2 R 584, folder ‘Question théâtrale, 1824–1932’.

39 Arch. Mun. Toulouse 2 R 173. By 1847 the lyric season had been reduced to nine months; financial exigency in 1848 reduced the subsidy back to 25,000 francs, with no genre beyond vaudeville contractually required. Ibid.

40 Report from J. Dumas, Le Messager des théâtres, 17/82 (20 October 1864), [3].

41 ‘sevré de bonne musique.’ Report from Amédée Gaucher, Le Messager des théâtres, 17/84: 27 October 1864, [2]. As discussed below, the Rouen situation was complicated because although the subsidy of 60,000 francs was not initially withdrawn, it proved insufficient for intending managers, and the council ended up letting the theatre without subsidy, and therefore without including opera in the contract. The following week Gaucher reported that even the tiny operetta company at the theatre had failed (Le Messager des théâtres, 17/87 (6 November 1864).

42 ‘La liberté des théâtres n'a été ici, comme ailleurs sans doute, que le signal d'un mouvement rétrograde.’ Le Messager des théâtres, 17/92 (24 November 1864).

43 ‘Vous le savez bien, mon cher directeur, nous avons failli, cette année, ne pas avoir d'opéra, et partant ne pas avoir de théâtre; la subvention a été d'abord supprimée, puis rétablie, puis supprimée encore, puis rétablie définitivement. Oh! fragilité des choses municipales!’ Le Messager des théâtres, 17/84 (Th 27 October 1864).

44 Toulouse council meeting of 15 February 1864. Arch. Mun. Toulouse, 1 D 61, f. 15r–16r. The council did not raise the subsidy, but retained the principle of a single manager for both its theatres, explicitly so as to enable cross-subsidy between them (ibid).

45 On Guilley's recommendation, Nantes had tried régie, at unacceptable cost, in 1857–61. See Destranges, Étienne, Le Théâtre à Nantes depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours, 1430?–1893 (Paris, 1893), 317–31Google Scholar. (The question mark of the title was removed for the second edition of 1902, which extended the narrative to 1901.) The question resurfaced in December 1863, with straight subsidy voted after the decree became law (mayor to préfet, 16 February 1864). Arch. Dépt. Loire-Atlantique, 177 T 8.

46 This was precisely Félix Raphaël's complaint, although his 1 February 1864 estimate of a loss of 60,000 francs in tax revenues is probably an exaggeration. Like Halanzier, in the wake of the decree Félix considered resigning on grounds of ‘force majeure’. Arch. Mun. Lyon 88 WP 006, folder 20. In Toulouse, the ‘tax’ shortfall was noted as an unwelcome consequence of the decree that would likely mean that the subsidy had to be increased. Council meeting of 15 February 1864. Arch. Mun. Toulouse, 1 D 61, f. 15r–16r.

47 By contrast, the Strasbourg council decided that the more serious threat (and it was indeed a threat) was the recent hike in royalty levels demanded by the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques. Mayor of Strasbourg to mayor of Nantes, 15 January [1866], Arch. Mun. Strasbourg 180 MW 35.

48 ‘personne ne songe à le réduire.’ Bordeaux town council minutes, 18 January 1864. Arch. Mun. Bordeaux 12 D 47, f. 76v.

49 Letters of 14 and 26 January; 16 February 1864, cited and discussed in Marseille town council minutes of 4 March 1864 (copy in Arch. Mun. Marseille 77 R 35). This account gives the lie to Combarnous's narrative of Halanzier's resigning because the council cut his subsidy (Combarnous, , L'Histoire du Grand-Théâtre de Marseille, 31 octobre 1787 – 13 novembre 1919 [1927] (Marseille, 1980), 105Google Scholar). He was not a victim: resigning so early, and successfully citing ‘force majeure’, meant not only that he could retain 100 per cent of his security deposit but also that he was maximally flexible whatever the council decided.

50 ‘Les directeurs actuels des théâtres, autres que les théâtres subventionnés, sont et demeurent affranchis envers l'Administration de toutes les clauses et conditions de leurs cahiers des charges, en tant qu'elles sont contraires à ce décret.’ Law of 6 January 1864, Article 7.

51 ‘La pensée dominante du décret du 6 janvier … est une pensée de liberté et d'affranchissement. Or, une subvention, quelles que seraient la forme et le motif, serait évidemment en opposition avec cette généreuse pensée. Acceptons la position qui nous est faite, sans nous préoccuper, pour le moment, des conséquences qu'elle pourra avoir; n'allons pas à la recherche d'embarras et de difficultés dont le décret a voulu nous affranchir. Quand le Gouvernement veut bien accorder aux villes des franchises et des libertés, sachons, nous, ses représentants, les accueillir avec reconnaissance, et gardons-nous bien, dans leur application, d'en amoindrir les salutaires effets.’ Marseille town council minutes of 4 March 1864 (copy in Arch. Mun. Marseille 77 R 35).

52 Marseille town council minutes, 4 March 1864. Secrétaire général Fanjoux's annotation of 23 March reads: ‘Vu et approuvés, mais seulement en ce qui concerne la démission de M. Halanzier.’

53 Bénédit was not against opera per se, or in dispute with the then director of Marseille's theatres. Indeed, he dedicated his pamphlet Quelques réflexions relativement à la liberté des théâtres en province (Marseille, 1864) to Halanzier as an ‘affectionate souvenir’. His view that the abolition of subsidy would slow the rise in singer salaries was one shared by the Strasbourg council, which hoped to benefit indirectly from the consequences of other councils' decisions to abolish. Strasbourg raised its subsidy from 58,000 francs to 68,000 francs, but with the extra funds targeted at skilled staff among the permanent workforce at the Grand-Théâtre. Council minutes 20 May 1864. Arch. Dépt. Bas-Rhin, TP 7/2.

54 ‘Il faut donc que les artistes des principaux théâtres lyriques, jeunes hommes d'intelligence et qui, après tout, ont de l'esprit et du sens, jugent bien la situation et contribuent ensemble à la régulariser le plus promptement au moyen de quelques sacrifices. Que diraient-ils, par exemple, si les villes de province (et la chose arrivera), forcées de consacrer les deniers des contribuables [aux] travaux urgents, ne pouvaient plus désormais soutenir le genre lyrique?’ Gustave Bénédit, Sémaphore de Marseille, 37, no. 11,034 (3 February 1864), 1–2, at 2.

55 ‘Le rôle des directeurs se bornerait … à la présentation pure et simple de ce que nous permettrons d'appeler leur marchandise.’ (Original italics) Un ancien amateur, Marseille. Notice historique sur ses théâtres privilégiés (Marseille, 1863), 128.

56 Arch. Mun. Lyon, 88 WP 006, folder 20.

57 That said, where other kinds of props were concerned the dependency could work in reverse, with the legislation leaving a supposedly independent secondary theatre without any call on the scenery it had routinely borrowed from its mother opera house. The Variétés at Toulouse was a case in point, as explained by the mayor to the council in a speech arguing for the retention of the status quo – including the running of the two theatres together. Given in L'Univers musical, 12/7 (18 February 1864), 50–2, at 51–2.

58 The need for such cross-subsidy was explicitly referred to in correspondence between the mayors of Rouen and Nantes in which the mayor of Rouen lamented the ecological destruction wrought by the legislation, especially in relation to opera. Letters of 21 March and 13 December 1864; the repeat of the problem of a vacant Théâtre des Arts in 1866 is reported in a letter of 12 January. Arch. Mun. Nantes, 2 R 584, folder ‘Question théâtrale, 1824–1932’.

59 ‘J'avoue, pour mon compte, que je ne sais pas trop par quel moyen on pourra sortir de ce mauvais pas. Cela demande réflexion.’ L'Univers musical, 12/7 (18 February 1864), 50–2, at 51.

60 Arch. Dépt. Bas-Rhin TP 7/2: copy of municipal council minutes for 20 May 1864.

61 Request of 21 January 1865 from Amable Boïge Mutée to extend his contract, Arch. Dépt Bas-Rhin, TP 7/1. He also asked for the opera season to be reduced from eight months to seven on the same subsidy.

62 ‘En effet, une seule troupe desservait simultanément les Variétés et le Grand-Théâtre, où les artistes jouaient souvent le même soir; des voitures les y transportaient vice-versa, mais pas toujours en temps voulu, ce qui amenait des interruptions et des longueurs contre lesquelles on manifesta fréquemment.’ Lefebvre, Léon, Histoire du Théâtre de Lille de ses origines à nos jours, 5 vols. (Lille, 1901–7), IV (Lille, 1903), 223Google Scholar.

63 Louis Charles Alfred Mangeis, dit d'Herblay, was Lyon's sole Directeur des théâtres from 1866, contracting a profit-share with Halanzier to start in 1870. Arch. Mun. Lyon, 88 WP 006, folder 23.

64 A. S., , La Question du Grand-Théâtre à Bordeaux (Bordeaux, 1886), 5Google Scholar.

65 The most Ad[olphe] Royannez expressed was disappointment that musically the new company would be limited to doing operetta, or the simplest opéra-comique. La Publicité, 9, no. 402 (1 September 1864), [1].

66 Combarnous, L'Histoire, 106.

67 Sémaphore de Marseille, 37, no. 11,306 (23 December 1864), [1]. Combarnous's account of these visits is more sanguine (L'histoire, 106); but it should be noted that he hides a great deal in his account of the mid-1860s.

68 Sémaphore de Marseille, 38, no. 11,503 (17 August 1865), [1].

69 ‘Cette expérience d'une année a été jugée suffisante.’ Letter of 17 January 1866. Arch. Mun. Nantes, 2 R 584, folder ‘Question théâtrale, 1824–1932’.

70 Combarnous glosses over this episode as a mere ‘interregnum’, which is not how it appeared in Marseille at the time. Combarnous, L'Histoire du Grand-Théâtre, 105–7.

71 As early as 20 February 1864 the préfet of the Bouches-du-Rhône complained to the mayor of Marseille that he had been swamped with expressions of fear and foreboding relating to the new legislation and its potential effect on the relationship between theatre and entertainment (Arch. Dépt Bouches-du-Rhône, 4 T 72, folder ‘Liberté théâtrale’).

72 Not so Toulouse, where in 1872 the halting of Offenbach's Orphée at the Variétés (a singer became ill mid-performance) saw audience members rushing to catch its conclusion at the Grand-Théâtre, where it was playing the same night. Remplon, Lucien, Gloire immortelle … du Capitole: Histoire de l'art lyrique au Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, 1880–1995 (Toulouse, 2003), 32–3Google Scholar. The weakening of the Rouen council's defences against operetta came with the argument that some operettas had enough artistic merit to be considered ‘works in the nature of an opéra-comique’ (pièces assimilées à l'opéra-comique). Predictably, semantic arguments ensued over what counted and what did not – relating in particular to opéra-bouffe. Council meeting of 11 April 1890. Arch. Mun. Rouen, 2 R, folder ‘Campagne 1890–91’.

73 Bernex to Halanzier, 17 May 1867. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Opéra, Dossier d'artiste Halanzier.

74 This narrative, supplied by a broadly supportive Bénédit (Sémaphore de Marseille, 40, no. 12,135 (11 September 1867), [1]) fills in the ‘hole’ in Combarnous's history whereby the 1867–8 season simply starts, uncommented, in December. Combarnous, L'Histoire du Grand-Théâtre, 112.

75 d'Este, Alphonse, La Publicité 12, no. 530 (24 October 1867), [2]Google Scholar. A long way down the operatic hierarchy, Aix was the home base of the 18th arrondissement company, which had started doing opera only in the early 1860s. Arch. Dépt. Bouches-du-Rhône, 4 T 75 (Théâtre d'Aix, 1861–1914).

76 Unsigned, La Publicité, 12, no. 525 (12 September 1867), [2].

77 Schmidt, Karl in La Publicité, 12, 529 (17 October 1867), [1]Google Scholar.

78 Exceptionally, these two cafés-concerts had been allowed to take around sixty employees from the non-functioning Grand-Théâtre. Bondilh, H. in La Publicité, 12, no. 529 (17 October 1867)Google Scholar.

79 Schmidt, Karl in La Publicité, 12, no. 534 (21 November 1867), [1]Google Scholar.

80 Within the reports préfets gathered in order to respond to Bardoux's consultation document, two themes dominate: laments about aspiring artists leaving their training early in order to make easy money, and complaints about the growth of the café-concert sector more generally.

81 ‘le vrai public’ – Bondilh, H. in La Publicité, 12, no. 529 (17 October 1867), feuilletonGoogle Scholar. The article was pointedly entitled ‘L'Art pour le peuple’ (the Beauvau being for the dilettanti – although to be fair its prices were organised to attract a wide spectrum of Marseillais).

82 ‘On a bien raison de dire que le bonheur des uns fait toujours le malheur des autres; il y aura des gens qui ne jubileront pas; ce bon monsieur Bellevaut, par exemple, qui bénéficiait au Gymnase du manque d'opéra et qui saturait ses abonnés à loisir, sans concurrence et jusqu'à plus soif de l'éternel sautillement orchestré d'Offenbach, qu'on est convenu d'appeler musique bouffe! … La musique d'Offenbach (si musique il y a) commençait à nous lasser et ne pouvait suffire à un public pas encore tout-à-fait Gérolsteinisé.’ Schmidt, Karl, La Publicité, 12, no. 531 (31 October 1867), [1]Google Scholar.

83 ‘“Plus d'Offenbach!” tel est le cri général.’ La Publicité (31 October 1887).

84 ‘[b]eaucoup d'excellents esprits.’ Consultation document sent in November 1878. Undated copy in AN Paris, F21 1330, folder ‘Circulaires’.

85 Mayor of Bordeaux to préfet of the Gironde, 17 December 1898. Arch. Dépt. Gironde, 167 T 15, folder ‘Conséquences du décret du 6 janvier 1864’.

86 Response from Nantes in Arch. Mun. Nantes 2 R 584, folder ‘Question théâtrale, 1824–1932’.

87 Response from Director of Grand-Théâtre, Bordeaux, in Arch. Dépt. Gironde, 167 T 15, folder ‘Conséquences du décret du 6 janvier 1864’.

88 Response from Director of Théâtre-Français, Bordeaux, in Arch. Dépt. Gironde, 167 T 15, folder ‘Conséquences du décret du 6 janvier 1864’.

89 Response signed Th. Omer, 28 November 1878, in Arch. Dépt Haute-Garonne, 8 T 5, folder ‘1878–9 Enquête sur les résultats de la loi du 6 j. 1864 sur la liberté des théâtres’.

90 Minutes: Arch. Mun. Lyon, 88 WP 010 folder ‘Demande de participation au reliquat de la subvention accordée en 1877 au Théâtre Lyrique’.

91 Sous-préfet of Blaye to préfet of the Gironde, 3 December 1878. Arch. Dépt. Gironde, 167 T 15, folder ‘Conséquences du décret du 6 janvier 1864’.

92 L. Fabert, Mémoire sur la nécessité de rattacher au Ministère de l'Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts le service des théâtres des départements et sur la création, à l'Administration des Beaux-Arts d'une Inspection et d'un Bureau spéciaux à ce service (unpublished, Paris, April 1879). AN F21 954.

93 Neither was the idea of central government funding new: it had been the cornerstone of Antoine-Louis Malliot's doomed petitions of the 1860s to the French Senate, rebuffed as ‘centralist’ by Baron Haussmann. See my ‘Funding Grand Opera’, 80–3. In addition, it is notable that this shift of the 1870s is presaged by the highly ironic post-1864 ‘Stateism’ which Féret detects within the arrondissement system, where municipalities that had never had to supervise their theatre closely because itineraries were pre-set at Départemental level, found themselves suddenly taking ownership of and subsidising theatrical affairs, in ‘decentralised’ fashion because there was no one else to do it. See Féret, ‘Le décret’, 59–60.

94 The consolidation during the later nineteenth century of a ‘guest star system’ among singers did nothing to curtail salary levels; when publishers began hiring rather than selling the orchestral parts to old and new music alike, financial pressures would worsen still further.

95 On Rouen, see Rowden, Clair, ‘Decentralisation and Regeneration at the Théâtre des Arts, Rouen, 1889–1891’, Revue de musicologie, 94 (2008), 139–80Google Scholar.