Comédie-Italienne or Théâtre-Italien are French names which have been used to refer to Italian-language theatre and opera when performed in France.
The earliest recorded visits by Italian players were commedia dell'arte companies employed by the French court under the Italian-born queens Catherine de Medici and Marie de Medici. These troupes also gave public performances in Paris at the theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, probably the earliest public theatre to be built in France.
The first official use of the name Comédie-Italienne was in 1680, when it was given to the commedia dell'arte troupe at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, to distinguish it from the French troupe, the Comédie-Française, which was founded that year, and just as the name Théâtre-Français was commonly applied to the latter, Théâtre-Italien was used for the Italians. Over time French phrases, songs, whole scenes, and eventually entire plays were incorporated into the Comédie-Italienne's performances. By 1762 the company was merged with the Opéra-Comique, but the names Comédie-Italienne and Théâtre-Italien continued to be used, even though the repertory soon became almost exclusively French opéra-comique. The names were dropped completely in 1801, when the company was merged with the Théâtre Feydeau.
From 1801 to 1878, Théâtre-Italien was used for a succession of Parisian opera companies performing Italian opera in Italian, and in 1980 the name Comédie-Italienne was revived in the Montparnasse district of Paris by a theatre presenting Italian commedia dell'arte plays in French translation.
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