Uršulė Radvilienė and Vilnius’ First Theatre

Franciszka Urszula Radziwiłłowa (1705-1753). Wroblewski Library Rare Books Department

At the end of the 18th century, Vilnius’ first theatre opened its doors to the public. It was established in the present-day building of the Lithuanian Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum. The story of the theatre began when a twenty-year-old Pranciška Uršulė was introduced to Mykolas Kazimieras Radvila (Michael Casimir Radziwill) at a mask ball. The first dramatist who wrote in Polish, Pranciška Uršulė Radvilienė (Franciszka Urszula Radziwiłłow), established the private Nesvyžius’ Theatre, which would arrive to Vilnius.

The theatre functioned in the Palace of Radvilas until the mid-19th century; its repertoire followed European trends. On 8 May 1786, to celebrate the name-day of Stanislav August, a performance based on the comedy by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, was staged. The play took place a couple of years after its premier in Paris and only seven days after its premier by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna.

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