Restoration

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This prosperity enjoyed under British rule rendered the theatre’s size inadequate, and following the sale of the building in 1861, crowds were drawn to the newly-finished, much larger Opera House. The theatre rapidly fell into total disuse, becoming a doss house for beggars.

However, an 1873 fire that destroyed the Opera House brought a new lease of life to the now renamed Manoel Theatre, in tribute to its founder. Once again however, the reconstruction of the Opera House signified the end of the road for the Manoel, converted first into a dance hall and eventually a cinema.

In the year 2004, the team of Sante Guido Restauro e Conservazione di Opere d Arte, unearthed paintings that, could serve to increase the knowledge and the understanding as to how the theatre developed over the centuries. The findings have emerged from beneath the flaking green paint on the top tier. Although the gallery was added in 1811, the restorers did not rule out that the paintings in its balconies could match the lower levels and could, therefore be the original designs dating back to the year 1731, the year this magnificent theatre was inaugurated. Since the inauguration of the theatre, the balconies would appear to have undergone four interventions: the discovered paintings on the canvas layer, the green paint over them, the panelling and the gilding. After the first phase of the restoration of the panelling, the second phase followed with proper cleaning, removal of layers of dust and grime and the repair of breakages in the wooden, gilded decorations which were split in many areas. The question remains: why were the original paintings covered, and what changes in culture brought this about ? The answer could simply lie in the different cultural tastes of time, or could be something more fascinating

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