Plzeňské sympozia

Hana Tillmanová

Theatre for All. Averino’s Prague Season (1875/76)

pp. 222–225 (Czech), Summary p. 225 (English)

In the second half of the 19th century, citizens of Prague took to the habit of frequenting summer-season theatres which became known as arenas. These essentially Prague-based theatres were built outside the municipal limits, behind the city walls, and their productions were targeted on the broad strata of the urban middle class. One of the most interesting of these arenas was the Teatro salone italiano, established in 1875 at the initiative of Italian theatre entrepreneur Eugenio Averino. In the Prague context of the time, Averino’s arena represented a less than typical, exceptionally ambitious project, being the city’s first stable variety theatre with a table seating auditorium and restaurant-style service, with a seating capacity of over 2,000. As it was built on a loan, the management was existentially bound to attract as fast as possible a mass of regular audience, as well as to build up regular and lasting boxoffice receipts. Thanks to cleverly structured dramaturgy capable of responding flexibly to audience tastes as well as to the growing prosperity of Prague’s bourgeoisie, these endeavours met with success, especially during the early stages. The Teatro salone italiano became hugely popular and on the whole prosperous. This essay is devoted to the initial stage in the company’s existence, during which Averino managed to assign to his theatre a characteristic face, in terms of not just the character of its productions but also its operation and functioning at large, a pattern which was duly adopted by his successors in subsequent stages of its history.

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