Originally, queen Marie-Antoinette asked architect Lenoir to raise a theatre because the Palais-Royal’s Opera built by architect Moreau just burnt in 1781: quick, quick, the queen wanted quick results!
Within 3 months, the theatre was born... They inaugurated it the day the dauphin was born (little Louis-Joseph), with a free performance! During the Revolution, citizens' gathering took place here.
Finally, it reopened in 1802, under the name “Porte-Saint-Martin theatre”. The legend said that in 1804, a play was given (Passage du Mont Saint-Bernard), which deals with Napoleon’s second campaign in Italy. An actor wore Napoleon’s hat and coat!... But the real emperor attended the show!
Oh, he dared... Napoleon looked strange, but the crowd seemed happy, so he closed his mouth. The legend says he sent a big sum of money to the actor, who really did a great job!
Then our theatre became famous: great actors played here, Bocage, Frederick Lemaitre, Marie Dorval... They played Balzac, Dumas, Sand, Sardou... Later, Chardonnière and Bonnet raised the actual theatre.