Manoel Theatre was built in Old Theatre Street in 1731 and is the oldest theatre in the Commonwealth. It first opened its doors in 1732 with Scipione Maffei’s production Merope. It is named after its founder, Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, the 66th Prince and Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta. When the new Royal Opera House was built in 1866, the Teatru Manoel became the haunt of beggars, who paid a penny a night to sleep there. It was later a dance hall, a cinema and in World War II a refuge from bombing raids. The theatre has a horseshoe shaped auditorium with an oval ceiling and gilded boxes, in which Queen Adelaide watched a gala production of Lucia di Lammermoor in 1838. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II also attended a production here on her 1967 State Visit.
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