Opera House

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Opera House as concept

Opera House Cape Town

Also called the Cape Town Opera House. (1893 – 1937). Situated on the site of the present Post Office** and built for £40 000. First performance (31 August 1893): Dorothy, a musical by Stephenson and Cellier performed by the Lyric Company.

The Theatre

The theatre was of major importance and at the time considered the finest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere, with 1000 seats, a fireproof corridor, lit by gas, which was later replaced by electricity. The pit was of the latest design, stalls were well padded and covered with red leather, the dress circle and boxes were elaborate with chaste designs and there was a "gods" with bench seating.

The Grand Theatre Restaurant

It also housed a restaurant, The Grand Theatre Restaurant.

Lessees and Performances

In 1896 Frank de Jong was the lessee, his “Gaiety” companies performed here, as well as various well-known international performers, including Zena Dare, Matheson Lang and Sybil Thorndike. * Mark Twain also gave three performances of his At Home there in July 1896. *In June 1909 Leonard Rayne became the lessee. Harry Stodel** [hosted many overseas stars such as Anna Pavlova and Harry Launder and locals such as Stephen Black*, Leonard Rayne* and Harry Stodel*. EXPAND] **Also saw the first performance of An African Millionaire by Edgar Wallace. Written by Wallace when he was editor of the Rand Daily Mail, it was based on the life of Rhodes. Produced by Leonard Rayne in the Opera House in Pretoria/Cape Town (??*) in 1904. It was a dismal failure and closed after 6 days.


See Fletcher, 1994 (JF & MN)

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