36 Design Inspiration: Le Petit Théâtre de la Reine

Marie Antoinette commissioned her personal architect Richard Minque to design a theatre on the grounds of the Petit Trianon.  Classical in style, the portico, which was completed in the spring of 1780, is situated in the gardens and decorated in blue, white and gold. The sculpted decorations were created using the quick and inexpensive technique of papier mâché by the expert craftsmen of the Menus Plaisirs. The theatre had seating for two hundred and fifty spectators and the orchestra pit had room for twenty musicans. The stage (eight layers, two floors below stage level and two in the rafters), was fitted out by mechanical specialist Pierre Boullet, successor to Blaise-Henri Arnoult, who designed the machinery of the Royal Opera House. The Petite Trianon theatre was used both for musical works commissioned by the queen from the Royal Academy of Music and for the amateur theatrics staged by Marie Antoinette and her friends. Although the queen ceased to use the theatre much after 1785, it survived the revolution, and its original machinery was later restored to working condition, making it the only eighteenth-century theatre in France which is still intact and fully-functioning. In fact, in 2017, there was a staged and costumed revival of Le Devin Du Village (The Village Soothsayer) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which Marie Antoinette performed in 1780 with the Troupe des Seigneurs, casting herself as a shepherdess.


Gallery 1.



Gallery 2.


Video 1. Excerpt from Le Petit Théâtre de la Reine documentary produced by Château de Versailles.


Image Citations:

Gallery 1. Available from: Château de Versailles. Accessed May 14, 2019. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/estate-trianon/queen-theatre.

Gallery 2. Image from Le Devin du Village. Available from:  France TV. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://www.france.tv/spectacles-et-culture/opera-et-musique-classique/971019-le-devin-du-village-petit-theatre-de-la-reine-a-versailles.html.

Video 1. Château de Versailles, The petit Théâtre of Marie-Antoinette. Available from: YouTube. Published April 15, 2019. https://youtu.be/zY37s7yrRIk.


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