A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Odéon
ODÉON. A theatre near the Luxembourg in Paris, known at various times under different names. The original building, by Peyre and de Wailly, containing 1500 seats, was begun in 1773 on the site of the Hôtel de Condé, at right angles to its present position, to which it was transferred in 1779 by command of Louis XVI. It was opened in 1782 as the 'Théâtre Français,' became in 1790 the 'Théâtre de la Nation,' was burnt down March 18, 1799, and rebuilt in 1807 by Chalgrin as the 'Odéon, Théâtre de l'Impératrice,' again partially burnt March 20, 1818, but immediately restored. As an offshoot of the 'Comédie Française' ('le second Théâtre Français') it receives a subsidy from the state; but its musical relations alone concern us.
From 1808 to 1814 comedy was given at the Odéon four days in the week, and on the other three Italian opera; the chief works of Paisiello, Mozart, Salieri, Zingarelli, and Cimarosa, being produced together with those of the second-rate composers popular at the beginning of the century, Simon Mayer, Generali, Nasolini, Pavesi, etc.
In 1816 ballets were tried, but none were produced of any musical importance. From 1824 to 28 the Odéon became almost a branch of the Opéra, and took an important part in popularising the revolution of Rossini and of Weber. In 1824 the 'Barbiere di Siviglia," translated by Castil Blaze, was performed there for the first time in Paris on May 6; and on Dec. 7 'Freischütz' was produced and hissed. Castil Blaze then remodelled it to suit French taste, and as 'Robin des Bois' it reappeared on Dec. 16, and ran for 327 nights! The able conductor, Pierre Crémont (1784—1846), also a good player on the violin and clarinet, contributed much to the success of the operas given there, among which may be specified Mozart's 'Figaro' and 'Don Juan'; Rossini's 'Gazza Ladra,' 'Otello,' 'Tancredi,' and 'Donna del Lago'; Winter's 'Sacrifice interrompu'; Meyerbeer's 'Marguerite d'Anjou'; and Weber's 'Preciosa,' all in French; besides several adaptations, such as 'La Forêt de Senart,' 'Pourceaugnac,' 'Ivanhoe,' and 'Le dernier jour de Missolonghi,' set by Hérold, in which the overture alone was a success.On Oct. 2, 1838, M. Louis Viardot's Italian company took refuge at the Odéon after the burning of the Salle Favart in the previous January, and continued there till the autumn of 1841. Since that date it has remained open, but as a second 'Théâtre Français,' music being only occasionally introduced, e.g. Mendelssohn's 'Antigone' in 1844, and Elwart's 'Alceste' in 1847. Of late years a success was achieved by Leconte de Lisle's tragedy 'Les Erinnyes,' with incidental music by Massenet, whose fine oratorio 'Marie Magdeleine' was also performed for the first time at the Odéon.
[ G. C. ]