Versailles Series: Le Théâtre de la Reine
Last week we saw Marie Antoinette's wee bedroom (I just read that this was indeed her original bed) and that was the last view from inside the Petite Trianon. Walking outside, I had no idea which way to go. I stared into a small marsh trying to see one of the bullfrogs loudly croaking and did. And off in the distance was the Temple of Love filled with people, in the middle of nothing (I think, maybe I would have seen something had I gone out there).
I saw pathways in at least half a dozen directions and didn't know which one to take, I didn't want to miss anything. I hate maps and the one for Marie Antoinette's domain was so busy I didn't even bother to check it. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not one to plan a route, I'd rather just go and see what happens. (When I was much younger I drove, or rather 'fled' to New York City once with a friend and stupidly refused to look into just how I would get to Manhattan where we had arranged to stay with her friend (who was an assistant photographer to Annie Leibovitz at the time. I wonder what she's doing now). I wound up in the Bronx talking to a gas station attendant through a drawer. Well, I talked and he didn't. You couldn't even see the guy, he was behind opaque black bullet proof glass with duct tape all over it and I knew I had to get back in the car and out of there fast. So I followed a police car into a sketchy apartment complex for help getting out and they thought that was suspicious - it was 3 a.m. - so the two officers got out of their cars and walked over to talk to us. They saw my Ontario plates and one asked in his thick New York accent 'Ontario's beautiful - whaddya doin' here?' I explained and they gave us directions, and as they were walking away they stopped to talk, looked back at us and came back over. The one said 'Hey, can you do us a favour? Our friend over there (pointing to another police car parked at the side of the building) is sleepin'. Can you bang on his window and scare 'em?' I said 'No thank you, I don't want to get shot in the face'. We arrived at the place in Manhattan soon after and I've never been happier to be in a stranger's tiny, weird-smelling apartment. I no longer 'just see what happens' in those situations.)
Back to Versailles. Here's the rear view of the Petite Trianon:
You can see one of the paths on the left:
Then I found myself in a garden of manicured hedges and those neat rectangular trees that look like tree lollies:
When I walked out I found myself in front of a building. I didn't know it (remember I don't look at maps) but I was entering the Théâtre de la Reine, or the Queen's Theatre, and what a surprise!
I'm going to quote what the Chateau de Versailles website tells us about this small, breathtaking theatre, le Théâtre de la Reine:
Richard Mique’s work, architect of Marie-Antoinette
While the Opera of Versailles was a theatre of court, the small room at Trianon was a theatre of society, as many existed then in residences in the countryside where, to pass the time, the owners and their guests would put together plays or operas. During her childhood in Vienna, Marie-Antoinette had gotten used to these familiar performances. She wanted to do the same with her close relations, princes of the royal family and some rare friends.
In 1780, on the orders of Marie-Antoinette, Richard Mique built this theatre whose severe exterior contrasts with the refined interior which, through its harmonies of blue, white and gold, recalls the opera of Versailles, only smaller since it has a capacity of only a hundred people: the domestic service on the floor and the guests on the first floor behind the boxes with grids. But the greatest luxury is not in the wooded room painted in a false, veined white marble and adorned with sculptures made of pasteboard, it lies in the machinery used for the scenery changes, which was fortunately preserved. On the stage of Trianon, plays by authors who were fashionable at the time, such as Sedaine and Rousseau, were acted out and entire operas were sung, and everyone agreed that the Queen was very good.
The view from the foyer of the theatre
To see the previous posts in the Versailles Series click here!
Photos © The Swelle Life