Building of the Manoel Theatre
The Manoel Theatre is one of the oldest theatres in Europe, built by the Portuguese Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena in 1731. It is famous for its acoustics and its magnificent baroque interior, accented by tiers of gilded boxes and a gallery. The courtyard has a cafe and a restaurant.
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The museum of the opera house is open on from Monday to Saturday.Tours of the Theatre start from the Museum (entrance is past the Theatre main entrance down Old Theatre Street.
Though modest in size, the display rooms of the Museum depict a rich outline of the glorious and interesting history of Teatru Manoel before proceeding to the impressive baroque auditorium of what is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe.
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The theater was built in ten months, with the aim of entertaining the young knights of the Order of St. John and providing honest entertement for the public. Above the entrance this motto is still "ad honestam populi oblectationem".
The first performance was a classic Italian tragedy, Scipione Maffei's Merope. The players in the production were the Knights themselves, and the set was designed by the Knights` chief architect, Francois Mondion.
During the British period it became a Royal Theater. The building underwent a series of changes and extensions. The theater attracted an ever-growing audience of locals, tourists and foreign dignitaries.
During the WWII the theater was a hiding place for bomb bombings, fortunately the theater escaped serious damage from bombing.
In 1957 the theater was bought back by the Maltese government.
A thorough renovation took place in 2004.
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