Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens was founded in 1855 by the composer Jacques Offenbach for the performance of opéra bouffe and operetta. Located at rue Monsigny, it has a rear entrance at Passage Choiseul so sometimes it’s referred to as the Salle Choiseul. In 1870, due to the failing popularity of operetta, the theatre began staging comedies as well.
In February 1855 Jacques Offenbach successfully requested a license from the Parisian authorities for the performance of what he described as a ‘new and original’ genre of musical theatre. The first shows took place in summer and were quite successful. Five months later, the theatre left Salle Lacaze and moved to the bigger and better Salle Choiseu
The new theatre was not only larger, but also warmer, more luxurious and more comfortable than the Salle Lacaze. The orchestra was enlarged from sixteen to thirty players. Offenbach’s new license permitted performances of one-act comedies, with or without music, but with fewer than five characters. It also specifically excluded sketches and required the performance of at least two works by composers other than Offenbach. The first performance in the new venue premiered on 29 December 1855. From this time performances were primarily given at the Salle Choiseul during the winter theatre season. The company performed at the Salle Lacaze during the 1856, 1857 and 1859 summer seasons, however, in March 1861 legislation was enacted which prevented the company from using both theatres, and appearances at the Salle Lacaze were discontinued. In spite of the restrictions of the license, Offenbach began including longer, more substantial works which violated its terms.
After Offenbach resigned as the director in January 1862, the new director tore down the existing hall to erect a larger one with a capacity of 1100 spectators.
While the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens is indelibly linked to Offenbach, it has also been the venue for a number of other important works. In addition to Offenbach’s own operettas, the theatre has seen the premieres of musical works by Hervé, Emmanuel Chabrier and Claude Terrasse and playwrights such as Robert de Flers, Albert Willemetz, Sacha Guitry and Henri Bernstein.