Established in 1716 and a royal troupe from 1723, the Comédie Italienne, or Théâtre Italien, as it was also known, had originally begun with an Italian repertory but gradually worked in French
comedies and plays until, by the late 1770s, it was Italian in name only. The merger of the Comédie with the Opéra Comique in 1762 allowed it to present, in addition, light and comic operas, interspersed with musical plays and parodies, all of which had become fashionable in Paris during the final decades of the ancien régime. It was here, as well as at several other Paris theaters, that John Quincy Adams attended numerous performances with his family, Jefferson, and other Americans from 1783 until his departure for America. Some plays, such as Sedaine and Grétry's Richard Coeur de Lion,
which he saw on 2 March 1785 at the Comédie Italienne, made such “an indelible impression” that Adams was able to recall lines and sentiments from the production 45 years later. In 1783 the Comédie moved from the Hôtel de Bourgogne to a new home, shown here, designed by royal architect Jean François Heurtier. The rear of the building was on the Boulevard; two new streets, the rue Favart and rue Marivaux, were cut along its sides; and the front of the theater faced a small square. After removal to its new quarters, the company experienced several profitable seasons, then struggled throughout most of the rest of the century. It disbanded in 1801 (Clarence D. Brenner, The Théâtre Italien: Its Repertory, 1716–1793, With a Historical Introduction, University of California Publications in Modern Philology,
63 : 1–35; JQA, Diary, 7 Nov. 1830,
This engraving by Née, after the work of Jean Baptiste Lallemand, is from Jean Benjamin de Laborde and others, Description général et particulière de la France ..., 12 vols. [called Voyage pittoresque de la France ..., after vol. 4], Paris, 1781–, vol. 10, Monuments de Paris et des environs, plate no. 75.