The Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens (French pronunciation: [te.atʁ de buf paʁizjɛ̃]) is a Parisian theatre which was founded in 1855 by the composer Jacques Offenbach for the performance of opéra bouffe and operetta. The current theatre is located in the 2nd arrondissement at 4 rue Monsigny with an entrance at the back at 65 Passage Choiseul. In the 19th century the theatre was often referred to as the Salle Choiseul. With the decline in popularity of operetta after 1870, the theatre expanded its repertory to include comedies.
In February 1855 Offenbach successfully requested a license from the Parisian authorities for the performance of what he described as a "new and original" genre of musical theatre. He justified his proposed endeavour by saying that these works would have mass appeal and would provide opportunities for young French composers.
The company gave its first performances during the summer of 1855 at the Salle Lacaze. This theatre was unusually small with a capacity of only 300 spectators, but was located on the Carré Marigny, near the crowds attending the Exposition Universelle. The inaugural performance was on 5 July with Offenbach conducting four of his own works: a prologue called Entrez, messieurs, mesdames, a one-act pièce d'occasion written by Joseph Méry and "Jules Servières" (a nom de plume of Ludovic Halévy, who worked as a government official and needed to protect his reputation); Une nuit blanche, a one-act opéra-comique on a pastoral theme; Arlequin barbier, a pantomime utilizing themes from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia arranged by "Alfred Lange" (Offenbach); and Les deux aveugles, a one-act bouffonerie musicale about two swindling "blind" Parisian beggars. The latter was almost cut, since the invited audience who attended the dress rehearsal failed to laugh, but Offenbach decided to retain it, and it was the hit of the opening night. This little piece soon acquired an international reputation (due to visitors from the Exposition), and Offenbach's admirers soon included Tolstoy and Thackeray. Further performances in the summer of 1855 were primarily of satirical sketches which only included a few musical numbers. The season, however, was so successful that Offenbach was able to resign his position as conductor of the Théâtre Français.
In October Offenbach submitted another petition to the authorities, this time to merge his company with the Théâtre des Jeunes Élèves de Monsieur Comte (Théâtre Comte). This company's theatre, which was not much larger than the Salle Lacaze, was demolished, and the larger Salle Choiseul with a capacity of about 900 was constructed. The new theatre was not only larger, but warmer, more luxurious and more comfortable than the Salle Lacaze. The orchestra was enlarged from sixteen players to thirty. Offenbach's new license permitted performances of one-act comedies, with or without music, but with fewer than five characters. It also specifically excluded sketches and required the performance of at least two works by composers other than Offenbach. The first performance of the merged company was on 29 December 1855 at the Salle Choiseul and included the premiere of Offenbach's Ba-ta-clan, a one-act chinoiserie musicale with a libretto by Halévy. From this time performances were primarily given at the Salle Choiseul during the winter theatre season. The company performed at the Salle Lacaze during the 1856, 1857 and 1859 summer seasons, however, in March 1861 legislation was enacted which prevented the company from using both theatres, and appearances at the Salle Lacaze were discontinued. In spite of the restrictions of the license, Offenbach began including longer, more substantial works which violated its terms. For instance, his two-act Orphée aux enfers with a cast of 16 received its first performance at the Salle Choiseul on 21 October 1858. Even after Offenbach resigned as the director in January 1862, the company continued at the Salle Choiseul, performing light operas by other composers as well as Offenbach.
Upon the departure of Offenbach, the new director tore down the existing hall to erect a larger one with a capacity of 1100 spectators.
While the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens is indelibly linked to Offenbach, it has also been the venue for a number of other important works. In addition to Offenbach's own operettas, the theatre has seen the premieres of musical works by Hervé, Emmanuel Chabrier and Claude Terrasse and playwrights such as Robert de Flers, Albert Willemetz, Sacha Guitry and Henri Bernstein.
From 1986 to 2007, the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens was under the directorship of Jean-Claude Brialy, who died of cancer in May 2007.
|29 December 1855||Jacques Offenbach||Ba-ta-clan|||
|8 August 1856||Léo Delibes||Dieux vielles gardes|||
|8 April 1857||Charles Lecocq||Le docteur miracle|||
|9 April 1857||Georges Bizet||Le docteur miracle|||
|21 October 1858||Jacques Offenbach||Orphée aux enfers|||
|8 June 1859||Léo Delibes||L'omelette à la Follembuche|||
|19 November 1859||Jacques Offenbach||Geneviève de Brabant|||
|10 February 1860||Jacques Offenbach||Le carnaval des revues|||
|17 November 1866||Hervé||Les chevaliers de la table ronde|||
|11 January 1867||Delphine Ugalde||Halte au moulin|||
|16 January 1869||Charles Lecocq||Gandolfo|||
|19 November 1871||Charles Lecocq||Le barbier de Trouville|||
|3 October 1877||Gaston Serpette||La petite muette|||
|28 November 1877||Emmanuel Chabrier||L'étoile|||
|13 November 1879||Edmond Audran||Les noces d'Olivette|||
|16 March 1880||Louis Varney||Les mousquetaires au couvent|||
|29 December 1880||Edmond Audran||La mascotte|||
|11 November 1882||Edmond Audran||Gillette de Narbonne|||
|19 April 1884||Joseph O'Kelly||La Barbière improvisée|||
|20 March 1886||Victor Roger||Joséphine vendue par ses sœurs|||
|8 October 1887||Raoul Pugno||Le sosie|||
|19 April 1888||Raoul Pugno||Le valet de cœur|||
|15 October 1888||Victor Roger||Oscarine|||
|1 February 1889||Raoul Pugno||Le retour d'Ulysse|||
|18 December 1889||André Messager||Le mari de la reine|||
|22 April 1892||Paul Vidal||Eros|||
|29 March 1893||Edmond Audran||Madame Suzette|||
|3 November 1893||Émile Pessard||Mam'zelle Carabin|||
|17 October 1894||Edmond Audran||L'enlèvement de la Toledad|||
|6 May 1895||Gaston Serpette||La dot de Brigitte|||
|28 February 1896||Charles Lecocq||Ninette|||
|16 November 1897||André Messager||Les p'tites Michu|||
|10 December 1898||André Messager||Véronique|||
|7 March 1901||Claude Terrasse||Les travaux d'Hercule|||
|12 November 1918||Henri Christiné||Phi-Phi|||
|10 November 1921||Henri Christiné||Dédé|||
|31 March 1923||Maurice Yvain||Là-Haut|||
|22 December 1923||Maurice Yvain||La dame en décolleté|||
|7 March 1924||Raoul Moretti||En chemyse|||
|17 September 1924||Raoul Moretti||Troublez-moi|||
|21 April 1925||Henri Christiné||P.L.M.|||
|3 December 1925||Raoul Moretti||Trois jeunes filles … nues|||
|22 December 1926||Henri Christiné||J'aime|||
|9 May 1929||Joseph Szulc||Flossie|||
|12 December 1930||Arthur Honegger||Les aventures du roi Pausole|||
|19 September 1934||Moisés Simons||Toi c'est moi|
The Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens was founded as a private entrepreneurship.