Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
During the first half of the 19th century several amateur or ambulant troupes were recorded at Galaţi, but the beginnings of a local theatre are related to the activity of an Italian philodramatic society which presented, in February 1848, two farces (“Ridiculous consultations” and “The two bogglers”) and the historical drama “Marco Botzaris”. During the 1850s Luigi Ademollo founded a local troupe and erected a wooden building where he hosted opera and theatre shows.
In the subsequent decades Galaţi was visited by numerous Romanian and foreign troupes that held their shows in improvised buildings. The repertoire varied greatly, from political plays related to the national desiderata of the Romanians to classical comedies, dramas or tragedies. The city was regularly visited by the popular troupes of Matei Millo, M. Pascaly or Fani Tardini, who held their shows in inappropriate auditoria, in restaurants and summer gardens. After the demolition of the so called Ventura theatre, the local authorities were pressed by the public to support the erection of a national theatre, an institution that was to nourish the patriotic feelings of the Romanians. However, as there were few financial possibilities for such a costly investment private entrepreneurship was readily used and a certain Bogdan Ciacâr erected a theatre (called “The Great Theatre or the “Temistocli Theatre”) in downtown Galaţi. Other buildings or summer gardens hosted theatre or music shows during the second half of the 19th century (“Apollo”, “Alcazar”, “Paradis”, “Central”, “Universelle”, “High Life”). However, they were all unfit for such representations, being small, hot in the summer and cold in the winter months.
As the municipality lacked the financial means to build a national theatre, it supported the erection of the “Papadopol Theatre”, completed by a prosperous merchant, Aristide Papadopol. It was inaugurated on 28 December 1898 in the presence of several notabilities, and served during the next decades as the most fashionable theatre in Galaţi.
During the second half of the 19th century and in the first two decades of the 20th century most of the popular Romanian troupes visited Galaţi (Al. B. Leonescu, Aristizza Romanescu, Ana Gr. Manolescu, Constantin Notarra, Agatha Bârsescu, etc), as well as a large number of foreign artists (Sarah Bernhardt). The repertoire varied extensively, from the classical plays of Moliere or Shakespeare to the creations of contemporaneous Romanian dramatists such as Vasile Alecsandri or I. L. Caragiale. During the late 1860s there were presented historical plays in favour of the Bulgarian national cause, and in the 1877–1878 season, when Romania was fighting for its national independence, the troupe of Fani Tardini acted in historical–patriotic plays. Classical music and opera was also staged with both Romanian and foreign artists (Elena Teodorini, G. Gabrielescu, D. Popovici Bayreuth, Nae Leonard, F. Labruna, etc). In December 1909 the great Romanian violinist George Enescu played at Galaţi.
Besides plays in Romanian, there were recorded several troupes that acted for the large migrant communities settled at Galaţi: Bulgarian plays with artists such as Dobri Vojnikov from Brăila, Jewish actors led by Avram Goldfeden, Greek plays staged by the troupes of Emanoil Lorasidos, Sofocles Tassoglu, Evanghelie Paraskevopulo and Veronis.
Picture 22.214.171.124_1 The Papadopol Theatre (1900s)
Picture 126.96.36.199_2 The Papadopol Theatre (1900s)
 Ion Brezeanu, Valentin Ţurlan, “Momente din istoria teatrului gălăţean”, Studii şi articole de istorie, VI (1964), 332; Paul Păltănea, “Un teatru de operă italiană la Galaţi între anii 1853–1857”, Studii şi cercetări de istoria artei, seria Teatru, muzică, cinematografie, 22:2 (1966), 159; Idem, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Partener Publishing House, 2008), vol. I, 416–417 and vol. II, 348.
 Ibid., vol. II, 351–352; details in Anca Costa-Foru, “Fani Tardini”, Studii şi cercetări de istoria artei, seria Teatru 2 (1964), 194.
 Păltănea, Istoria, vol. II, 349–350.
 Ibid., 350.
 Ibid., 357.
 Ibid., 368.
 Cornelia Papacostea–Danielopolu, “La vie culturelle des communautés grecques de Roumanie”, Revue des études sud-est européennes, 7:3 (1969), 488.
The official site of Galaţi Dramatic Theatre
The official site of “Nae Leonard” Musical Theatre of Galaţi
Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.
Brezeanu, Ion, Ţurlan, Valentin, “Momente din istoria teatrului gălăţean” [Moments from the History of Theatre at Galaţi], Studii şi articole de istorie, 6 (1964), 331–344.
Costa–Foru, Anca, “Fani Tardini”, Studii şi cercetări de istoria artei. Seria Teatru, 2 (1964).
Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).
Păltănea, Paul, “Un teatru de operă italiană la Galaţi între anii 1853–1857” [A Theatre of Italian Opera at Galaţi between 1853 and 1857], Studii şi cercetări de istoria artei, seria Teatru, muzică, cinematografie, 22:2 (1966), 159–163.
Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).
Papacostea–Danielopolu, Cornelia, “La vie culturelle des communautés grecques de Roumanie”, Revue des études sud-est européennes, 7:3 (1969), 475–493.
Tezaur documentar gălăţean [Tresure of Documents on Galaţi], edited by Cezar Bejan, Alexandru Duţă, Stelian Iordache, Viorica Solomon (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului, 1988).