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Opera House

The Opera House in Bourke Street (also known as the Prince of Wales Opera House and the Melbourne Opera House) was designed by architect George Johnson. The theatre opened in August 1872 with the play London Assurance. For the next 28 years it presented a variety of entertainments. Highlights included Lyster's Opera Co.'s Nellie Stewart in light operas such as Paul Jones and Boccacio, Brough and Boucicault producing Gaiety burlesques, and Bendigo-born entrepreneurs, the MacMahon brothers, presenting J.F. Sheridan in the popular farce Fun on the Bristol. Vaudevillian Harry Rickards leased the building from 1895, presenting his New Tivoli Minstrels. In 1896 the first screening of motion pictures occurred in Australia when Rickards engaged the American illusionist Carl Hertz to project his 'Cinematographe'. The Health Department ordered demolition of the theatre in 1900 so Rickards commissioned architect William Pitt to design the New Opera House (later called the Tivoli).

Mimi Colligan And Elisabeth Kumm