Café-concert in Lisbon: A Musical Theatre Spectacle Venue Connecting the Local and the International

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The main idea of this paper is that the Café-Concert that opened in Lisbon’s Largo da Abegoaria on 26 December 1857 was pivotal to the establishment of a capitalist entertainment system in the Portuguese capital. In 1851 began a period of the Portuguese Constitutional Monarchy that became known as ‘Regeneration’. Economical and Social development were central points of the political agenda of the day, which included a set of investments on infrastructures, industry, commerce, education, and culture. Politicians but also entrepreneurs were committed to bring the country closer to its European counterparts. The birth of the ‘Companhia Café-Concerto’ in Lisbon was an example of such endeavour, as it set a stage for Lisbon bourgeoisie to perform a modern and cosmopolitan-like way of living. It focused on providing a leisure and sociability venue that could match the Parisian trends and fashions, thus showing the connection between the two capitals. I perceive this as a process of cultural entrepreneurship through which a set of commercial and expressive practices was customized according to local determinants in order to maximize pro t. Based on periodical press sources I describe how coeval discourses associated the new Café- Concert with the values by which Lisbon elites formed its bourgeois identity, e.g.: morality, philanthropy, and wealth. I argue that such class reproduction is one of the speci cs of Lisbon mid-century variation of café-concert. I also debate the idea that performances of Offenbach’s early operettas in the Café-Concert at Largo da Abegoaria played a part in that distinction process.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventSinging Speech and Speaking Melodies: Musical Theatre (1650-1918) - Edificio Histórico de la Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
Duration: 9 May 201911 May 2019


ConferenceSinging Speech and Speaking Melodies
Internet address


  • Café-Concert
  • Lisbon
  • Operetta
  • Offenbach
  • Cultural entrepreneurship
  • Distinction


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