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Madagascar News Forums The Transformation of Antananarivo Reply To: The Transformation of Antananarivo


Begun in 1897, the construction of the municipal theater of Antsapanimahazo, to welcome both Malagasy and French troops, ends two years later. It is inaugurated on September 14, 1899. Its operation is entrusted to dealers who use it for one or two years, according to their possibilities. The concession, which is a privilege, is granted by a private treaty, agreed upon between the future operator and the administrator-mayor, with the approval of the Governor General in person. The treaty refers to the amount of security deposited by the concessionaire as well as the amount of the subsidy granted by the municipality.
Dealers are often French who bring the actors from the metropolis, on their own and with the help of the subsidy of the municipality. For example,
The first occupant is Charson’s troop, who was the director of the Theater des Folies Militaries of Andafiavaratra, “says archivist Razoharinoro-Randriamboavonjy. When Toamasina, who is their place of landing, begins to bring troops from France, she also sees her municipal theater. It is in this city that they acclimate and play first before joining the capital. Toamasina-Antananarivo travel expenses and return are the responsibility of the municipal administration of the capital.
Razoharinoro-Randriamboavonjy quotes the Vaovao Frantsay Malagasy, an official propaganda organ which, in its delivery of September 15, 1899, sets forth the program of the Charson troupe.
“Like most cities in Europe, Antananarivo is finally endowed with a theater where the Malagasy as well as the Europeans can also be entertained at the hours so long of the vigils. The French artists of the Charson troupe will give three performances a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as well as a reduced-price morning on Sunday afternoons. The Malagasy, great lovers of shows, singing and music, will appreciate the consummate art of the artists of profession that they are given to see for the first time in Antananarivo … »
“The municipal theater, which is a place of entertainment open to all, will admit the Malagasy dressed in the European style to the armchairs and the first seats. Those who want to attend the shows but will not have the means to dress like the Vazaha (sic), will have at a lower price, places from where they will see perfectly everything that will happen on the stage.
Thus, Antsapanimahazo promises to offer “his public of Europeans and Malgaches who will have the means”, quality shows that Charson, director of the municipal theater for 1900 and 1901 A troupe that bears his name and where he is an actor.
In 1902 Charletty succeeded him. He tries, with his troupe, to vary further his repertoire by inserting L’Arlésienne and Carmen, and by organizing “great concerts”.
The third director of the theater, Louis Alix introduces, for his part, sessions of spiritism and hypnotism, in addition to the usual repertoire. He had the Daughter of the Regiment represented on the occasion of the festivities of July 14, 1903. “From 1903, Courteline appeared in the repertoire. “Alix also plays The Day and the Night, a three-act opera-bouffe, for which he calls on Emile Cools,” conductor of the principal theaters in Paris. ” The costumes and hairstyles also come from the French capital.
Razoharinoro-Randriamboavonjy indicates that the composition of the successive troops at Antsapanimahazo since its opening is not homogeneous. This diversity is understood by the difficulties that the director of troop may encounter recruiting actors. “Recruitment which had to be done quite random meetings and sympathies. “
She cites the example of the Charletty troupe: the first baritone of all kinds and the second singer of the first are from the theater of Agen; The operetta-comic opera premiere of Lyons; The second tenor of Lorient; The first bass from Brest; The comic of all kinds, of the Theater de la Gaite of Paris; The second comic, Cherbourg … Nevertheless the distance of their country favors their cohesion once in Antananarivo.