Theatre News

260 New ‘Baroque’ chairs Manoel Theatre

€60,000 Project Sponsored by Malta International Airport

Sitting through theatrical and musical performances ought to be an entertaining experience. As such, entertainment also depends on the level of comfort. In a bid to enhance the overall experience and the level of comfort inside Manoel Theatre, the management has invested in the commission of a new collection of 260 chairs for all the boxes at the theatre.

The chairs, designed in ‘Louis XVI’ style and made of beech wood, have been produced by furniture company Renova which also specialises in period furniture reproduction. The chairs also needed to be custom-made at a particular size which is slightly smaller than the standard size to be able to be fitted comfortably within the confined space of the theatre boxes.

“At the theatre, the audience connects with the performers however the first promise of entertainment needs to come from knowing that sitting at the theatre is going to be a comfortable experience from the very start, from when our patrons sit comfortably inside their boxes,” says Ray Attard, CEO of Manoel Theatre who oversaw the whole project from the very start. “Therefore, we are confident that as from the next theatre season, our patrons will certainly notice a marked difference in the chairs from the current wooden bentwood chairs that have been used by theatre goers since the 60s.”

The project was sponsored by Malta International Airport plc through a generous contribution of €60,000. “It is thanks to corporate sponsorships like this that Malta’s National Theatre, the Manoel Theatre can keep offering the unique experience that it currently offers to all its patrons. In fact, besides a much improved level of comfort, the chairs are set to make a big visual contribution to the Baroque image and identity of the Theatre especially in view of the fact that next year, Manoel Theatre will be hosting the first edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival,” added Mr Attard.

“Manoel Theatre is Malta’s National Theatre and all organizations who choose to support projects at the National Theatre should feel honoured to be supporting one of Europe’s oldest opera theatres. In fact, being such an old theatre, we are constantly undergoing projects that help re-kindle the splendour of the theatre and at the same time securing the best experience for our patrons. In fact we are now looking for sponsorships to be able to carry out three new important projects namely the restoration of the theatre’s main façade, the installation of a theatre climate control and new carpeting in all the tiers,” announced Mr Attard.

“Our Company’s support of this project does not only stem from our commitment towards an active corporate social responsibility but is also triggered by the fact that Malta Airport and Manoel Theatre share the same values, as they are both committed to offer the best experience to their respective patrons. Therefore, associating ourselves again with Manoel Theatre for this important project was only a natural step for us,” said Mr Markus Klaushofer, Chief Executive Officer of Malta International Airport plc.

All the chairs in matt gold finishing, are upholstered in a sumptuous green velvet and damasque fabric, the green purposley chosen to be in line with the green fabric that dresses the ledges of the boxes as well as the green stage curtain. Renova have also entered into a 10 year sponsorship agreement with Manoel Theatre which ensures a constant maintenance programme for the chairs.

View the official presentation of the new chairs by Malta International Airport on the following link: where Mr Ray Attard, CEO at Manoel Theatre welcomes Malta International Airport CEO, Mr Markus Klaushofer and Head of PR & Corporate Communications, Mr Reuben Sciberras when the new chairs were delivered to the theatre.

The ‘Louis’ Chairs

French fashion in chairs, as with everything else, radiated from Paris. It was during the reign of Louis XIII that furniture became comfortable for the first time. During the era of Louis XIV, there was a breakthrough in chair construction, with the back becoming higher and the seat becoming larger to accommodate the more ample space required by the fashions of his day. Here, the arms and legs of the chair are usually heavily carved. Louis XIV was responsible for the court’s move to Versailles transforming what was a simple hunting lodge into the most magnificent palace in the country bringing artisans from all over the world to France, which cemented the 18th century as the century of the French.

The Louis XV chair often has a similar scale to the Louis XVI chair but the easiest difference to spot is in the legs. The Louis XV chair in fact has that curved cabriole leg. The transition from Louis XIV to Louis XV is really all about comfort. Comfort was the key word in the 18th century. From the late 1720s, fashionable “Louis XV” French chairs were constructed without stretchers, which interfered with the unified flow of curved seatrails into cabriole legs that generally ended in scroll feet.

According to strict guild regulations in force until the Revolution, French chairmaking was the business of the menuisier alone, whose craft was conjoined with that of the upholsterer (huissier), both of whom specialized in seat-furniture-making in Paris. A range of specialised seats were developed and given fanciful names, of which the comfortable bergère (“shepherdess”) is the most familiar. Walnut and beech were the characteristics woods employed; finishes were painted in clear light tones en suite with wall panelling, gilded or left in the natural color, in which case walnut was the timber used.

In the late 1760’s Paris, the Louis XV was gradually followed by the Louis XVI which represented a gradual stylistic development even before the accession of Louis XVI, whose name is attached to the first phases of the style. Straight tapering fluted legs joined by a block at the seat rail and architectural mouldings, characterize the style, in which each element is a discrete entity.

Though the Louis XVI chair is effectively the first Parisian neoclassical chair, its evolution resulted from the Baroque idiom.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - Article published on 27 May 2012

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