The history of Teatro São Luiz begins in 1892, driven by actor Guilherme da Silveira, this year marks the creation of a society for the construction of a theatre, in the old rua do Tesouro Velho (renamed António Maria Cardoso in 1907) on the land belonging to the House of Bragança. It is presided by the Viscount of São Luiz de Braga, a title attributed by King D. Carlos I in 1891, with Celestino da Silva, Alfredo Miranda, Alfredo Waddington and António Ramos, member of the Ramalho Ortigão family.
On the 22nd of May 1894, following a project by French architect Louis-Ernest Reynaud modified in Lisbon by Emílio Rossi and with an afresco by stage designer Luigi Manini, the Theatro D. Amélia is inaugurated, on the celebration of the eighth anniversary of the queen’s marriage to D. Carlos I. The opening performance was the operetta A Filha do Tambor-Mor, by Offenbach.
Two years after, small films are played during the intermissions and at the end of the plays, and the Theatre was the second venue in Portugal (after the Real Coliseu) to screen cinema, Cinematography: Animated Photography as it was called, to the Portuguese public. On a screen, behind which a film projector is placed, films are shown every night — among others, the first Portuguese image ever recorded on film — A Boca do Inferno em Cascais, by Erwin Rousby.
In 1898, Eleanora Duse, the actress, performs on this stage , where, a year later Sarah Bernhardt plays A Dama das Camélias, by Alexandre Dumas fils, Adriana Lecouvreur, a play written by her, Tosca, by Sardon, and Hamlet, by Shakespeare. It is also here that in 1906, the actress Palmira Bastos plays Venus with great success, and where, later she will end her career with O Ciclone (1966). In 1902 Julia Bartet was a sensation, and, in the same year, A Ceia dos Cardeais, by Júlio Dantas, is presented by the Companhia Rosas & Brasão, that was based in the Theatre.
With the implementation of the republic, in 1910, the Theatre is renamed Teatro República. In 1914, on the night of the 12th to the 13th of September, a fire destroys most of the building. In memory of that tragic event, an image is still hung over the stage in the main venue , the image of what is now called Saint Asbestos (Santo Amianto), a prop from the play which is said to have been the only object saved from the fire.
With a project by architect Tertuliano Lacerda Marques, the Theatre reopens two years later with the play Os Postiços, by Eduardo Schwalbach, and the premiere was attended by the President of the Republic, Bernardino Machado. In 1917 the Theatre becomes the property of the heirs of one of its founders, António Ramos, and the Ortigão Ramos family buys the property from the House of Bragança. In that same year, Amélia Rey Colaço debutes in this Theatre and it is also here that, in April, the First Conferência Futurista takes place with Almada Negreiros and Santa-Rita Pintor.
In 1918 the Viscount of São Luiz passes away, and on the 14th of April of the same year, as a tribute to one of its biggest facilitators the Theatre is renamed Theatro São Luiz.
On the 7th of April 1928, after several occasional film sessions and after having received as guests personalities like Italian film director Rino Lupo and the French actor Max Linder, it becomes permanently a Cinema, and changes its name to São Luiz Cine, with a decor by Leitão de Barros, and premiering in Portugal the most important films of that time. It was in this Theatre, for example, that the Portuguese audience was able to watch, for the first time, Metropolis, by Fritz Lang, accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Pedro Blanc executing the original score by Godfried Kuppertz. In 1930, it becomes one of the first venues to prepare itself for the “age of Sound Film” premiering in Portugal Prémio de Beleza, by Augusto Genina. The first Portuguese sound film, A Severa, by Leitão de Barros, premieres in São Luiz Cine, on the 18th of June 1931.
In May 1971, the building is acquired by Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, and renamed Teatro Municipal São Luiz, but is still operated as a cinema at first. Used by the company of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, a new resident company, headlined by Eunice Muñoz and directed by Luiz Francisco Rebello is formed. Several plays are performed here.
Premises were granted to Companhia Teatral do Chiado and one of the venues is occupied by the company in 1991, naming it Teatro-Estúdio Mário Viegas. In 1999, the Theatre undergoes a major intervention and restauration in the stage, dressing rooms and house areas.
Since its reopening, on the 30th of November 2002, the São Luiz Teatro Municipal has undertook as its mission to deliver to the city a live Theatre, with an audience, energetic, with hundreds of sessions per season, and sometimes with up to three daily presentations between the Sala Luis Miguel Cintra, the Sala Bernardo Sassetti and the Sala Mário Viegas.
Driven by actor Guilherme da Silveira, a society for the construction of a theatre, in the old rua do Tesouro Velho on the land belonging to the House of Bragança, is constituted. It is presided by the Viscount of São Luiz de Braga, with Celestino da Silva, Alfredo Miranda, Alfredo Waddington and António Ramos, member of the Ramalho Ortigão family.
Following a project by French architect Louis-Ernest Reynaud modified in Lisbon by Emílio Rossi the theatre is officially inaugurated on the 22nd of May by Their Majesties King D. Carlos I and Queen Amelia of Orléans after whom the theatre is named Theatro D. Amélia. The opening performance was the operetta by Offenbach A Filha do Tambor-Mor. The decorating afresco panel is from stage designer Luigi Manini.
The theatre is equipped with Cinematography: Animated Photography.
Présentation of Eleanora Duse. Residency of the Companhia Teatral Rosas & Brasão.
The comedy Lagartixa is presented by Ângela Pinto.
Performance of Julia Bartet. A Ceia dos Cardeais, by Júlio Dantas is performed by Companhia Rosas & Brasão.
Lucília Simões is very successful with the play Magda.
Actress Mimi Aguglia premieres in Lisbon on this stage.
The Theatre is renamed Teatro da República after a regime change on the 5th of October 1910. The Jardim de Inverno becomes an animatograph, named The Wonderful.
Popular acclaim with the revista De Capote e Lenço.
A violent fire nearly destroys the entire Theatre, the manager is trader and theatre writer Lino Ferreira. Ideas for the immediate reconstruction of the Theatre.
Two years after the fire, the society that explores the Theatre with the Viscount of São Luiz, Celestino da Silva and António Ramos manages to reopen the Theatre with a project from architect Tertuliano Lacerda Marques. The opening play was Os Postiços, by Eduardo Schwalbach, and the opening was attended by the President of the Republic, Bernardino Machado.
Amélia Rey Colaço debutes in the Theatre. Conference Ultimato Futurista by Almada Negreiros.
Death of the Viscount of São Luiz de Braga. As a tribute to one of its biggest facilitators the Theatre is renamed Theatro São Luiz.
Revista Bairro Alto with actress Aldina de Sousa.
The venue was adapted to become a cinema with a decoration by Leitão de Barros, it is now called Cine Teatro São Luiz. Premiere of the film Metropolis by Fritz Lang, accompanied by a 15 piece orchestra conducted by Pedro Blanc, who executed the original score by Godfried Kuppertz (as in the Berlin premiere).
The Jardim de Inverno becomes a cinema studio for the movie Ver e Amar, by Chianca de Garcia.
Premiere of sound cinema with Prémio de Beleza, by Augusto Genina, with a screenplay by René Clair, and Louise Brooks as protagonist. Premiere of the film A Severa, by Leitão de Barros.
Premiere of A Canção de Lisboa, by Cotinelli Telmo.
Premiere of A Canção da Terra, by Jorge Brum do Canto.
Screening of O Costa do Castelo, by Arthur Duarte.
French Theatre Season programmed by Erico Braga.
Works in the Jardim de Inverno as part of the celebration of the Theatre’s golden jubilee, which, featureless, is now named Salão de Festas.
Performance of the play António Marinheiro, by Bernardo Santareno, with Maria Lalande, Eunice Muñoz and João Perry.
It becomes a Municipal Theatre and is renamed Teatro Municipal São Luiz. The opening performance was A Salvação do Mundo, by José Régio, starring actress Eunice Muñoz.
Ephemeral presentation of the Companhia Nacional I, with a more popular repertoire. The opening play was Jesus Cristo em Lisboa, by Teixeira de Pascoaes.
One of the venues (Jardim de Inverno) was granted to be adapted and to host the Companhia Teatro-Estúdio Mário Viegas.
An International Public Tender was launched for the Requalificação e Conservação do Teatro Municipal São Luiz, (programme by Arqt.º Francisco Silva Dias and Architectural projects by the Divisão de Obras do Departamento de património Cultural da CML).
The “Teatro Municipal São Luiz – Obras de Reabilitação e Conservação” contract was awarded and received European Union support.
As part of the second stage of the contract, an International Public Tender for the “Reabilitação e Beneficiação da Sala Mário Viegas, Jardim de Inverno e Cafetaria” with a project by Architect José Romano is launched on the 29th of June.
The Empreitada do Teatro – Estúdio Mário Viegas, Jardim de Inverno e Cafetaria contract is awarded. The works are finished and the Teatro Municipal São Luiz reopens.
The theatre is ceded for the performance of the music hall Amália, by Filipe La Féria. Reopening of all the equipment: Teatro São Luiz, Jardim de Inverno, Teatro-Estúdio Mário Viegas and Café dos Teatros.
Aida Tavares is nominated artistic director of Teatro São Luiz, and takes on the programme of the Teatro-Estúdio Mário Viegas now named Sala Mário Viegas. This is the year when the São Luiz Mais Novos programme, for children and youths, starts with Susana Duarte in charge of the programme.
The Sala Principal is baptised Sala Luis Miguel Cintra.
The Jardim de Inverno is renamed Sala Bernardo Sassetti.
Teatro São Luiz celebrates its 125th year.