Pleasures and Pastimes of the Bourgeoisie


The Opéra and the Revolution
~ Pre -revolution

~Fashion in Les Mis

~Rise in Popularity
~Economic and Social Symbolism
~Representation in Les Mis

Gardens ~17th Century ~18th Century ~19th Century ~Versailles

Gambling ~Pre-Revolutionary ~Cafés & Cercles

Opéra & Theatre
~The Revolution
~Social Status
~Les Misérables

Etiquette ~Promenade ~Dances ~Dinner ~Casinos and Salons

Bibliography ~Fashion ~Etiquette ~Restaurants ~Opéra ~Picture Bibliography



The most important innovation in Opéra during the Revolution was the realization of a state-supported system: subsidized Opéra. Among popular implementations of subsidized Opéra was the new policy on seating: first come, first served. Subsidization had other benefits: tickets no longer cost an arm and a leg; now everyone could afford to go to the theatre or the Opéra. Ticket prices were lowest during the Revolution, and though they never reached their pre-revolutionary heights again, they did climb gradually. The average Jeanne or Jacques could (especially during the Revolution) walk in a theatre, pay for a theatre ticket well within his or her means, and sit in any open seat he or she desired.

Yet, why would the working man desire to attend the theatre or the Opéra, if the performance would not interest him? The working man wouldn't go to the theatre if it didn't interest him. In the politically charged times, new pieces, with political overtones debuted (for more information on political Opéra, please go to my Opéra and Politics page), so as to draw in the audiences that craved such performances. The public craved role models from the present day, not the oppressive feudal past, "as the theatre of the Revolution showed by the numerous plays and sketches commemorating contemporary historical figures" (Bryson 114)

"The Revolution doubly 'legitimized' the theatre: first legally, by declaring actors to be citizens in full posession of civil rights and by abolishing all priviledge in matter of repetoiry (theatres were henceforth free to perform any theatrical genre, any play they wished); second, morally, in that the revolutionaries saw the theatre as an extraordinary pedagogical tool in forming a new people, teaching them the ideals of the Revolution through the pleasures of the stage. ... both historians and contemporary eyewitnesses display a mixture of fascination and annoyance, even disgust, at the amazing spread of theatricality during the revolutionary period." (Bryson 114-115) The Revolution was all about freedom. In the case of theatre and Opéra, the Revolution freed the expression of the people. The proliferation of theatricality spoken of is merely the effect of the freedom given to artists (by the Revolution).