- John Rosselli
In opera as in the straight theatre, matinées (extra afternoon performances) became possible when the main performance time shifted from early afternoon to about 7 p.m. or later, in the second half of the 18th century. Opera matinées were, however, long seen as fit only for plebeian audiences. In Naples, the Bourbon government forbade them at the leading theatre, the S Carlo; but from 1817 at least they were common at small opera houses with lower-class audiences, not only on Sundays (when the working population was most likely to be free) but as part of a twice-daily schedule on other days. In Paris, the Sunday matinée became established from 1868 as the occasion for family visits to the national theatres, opera houses included; it has generally been favoured in continental and Latin American countries. In the English-speaking countries, where Sunday performances have at most times been ruled out by custom or by law, American opera companies have been readier than British to put on Saturday and sometimes other matinée performances of heavyweight works; the New York Metropolitan gave in ...