Teatro Sociale owes its origins to the history of the family of Luigi Guillaume, a French nobleman who fled Lyon with his wife Maddalena during the Revolution.
The Guillaumes, mixed with a group of travelling street acrobats and actors so as to cheat their pursuers, reached Italy in a most adventurous way. They eventually found that the fascinating circus lifestyle suited their situation as expropriated and exiled family.
Both skilled riders, used to hone their sporting abilities, the Guillaumes formed their own company and started to tour Europe. By chance, or by choice, at some point they chose Brescia as their permanent residence. They bought a palace in the city centre and started to spend time with the eminent families in Brescia, in the spare time between trips and shows.
Halfway through the 19th century the heir of the Guillaume family acquired an area in the city centre and built a wooden theatre dedicated to equestrian shows, theatrical performances and public gatherings. The other brothers, in their turn, formed travelling companies that achieved great success in Italy and abroad. In 1873 the theatre was rebuilt in a more elegant outline to become the temple of the high-ranking bourgeoisie of Brescia who wanted to have some fun. In 1903 the Guillaume family left the theatre, which was bought by a group of people who restored it entirely following a flawless Art Nouveau style – according to the architectural trend of the time – and baptized it under the name “Teatro Sociale”.
Until 1981, when the theatre was closed once and for all, the Teatro Sociale hosted lively shows: operetta, cabaret, and concerts. In the neighbouring Teatro Grande, more important from the point of view of its artistic tradition and larger in size, continued to be performed drama, classical music concerts and opera.
The most recent restoring works, which went on from 1986 to 1996 with some interruptions, revamped the grandeur of a theatre that can host 600 spectators and has now become the Teatro Stabile of Brescia.
Via Felice Cavallotti, 20