Small picture of Donizetti

 

 

The Hotel Manchester

by John R. Carter

This article appeared in Newsletter 44, December 1987.

 

The closure of the Hotel Manchester, Paris after 180 years, has broken an important link with the Paris of Donizetti's time. In this old ‘listed' hotel he composed Maria Padilla, La Favorite, and perhaps the Elisabeth, which was discovered so recently in the RoH cellars. Donizetti often mentioned the hotel in his letters: I shall be at my usual haunt at the Hotel Manchester...but he apparently did not use it before 1839 as it is mentioned in various sources that he lodged with Adam in 1838, in a road nearby, after his departure from Italy for good.

The hotel, as well as the usual assortment of doubles and singles, has three large suites: the Colette, Schneider and Donizetti, the last-mentioned two rooms with bedrooms en suite. The furnishings in the Donizetti seem to be mostly original, especially the table which appears in the well-known portrait of the composer looking at the Lucia score. To those who have not stayed there, this might seem remarkable after so long a time, but throughout the building - which appears to have been in private hands from the beginning of the nineteenth century - most of the paneling is original.

The cortile fountain was a later addition, possibly early twentieth century. In Donizetti's day the carriages would have entered into the courtyard to drop the guests. One can imagine that the hotel, only a few paces from the Théâtre-Italien, was popular with artists from the opera. Unhappily the management seems to have lost all the records before 1910,so it is difficult to ascertain who else stayed there during the three years that Donizetti made it his home, 1840 to 1843.

And so this hotel de charme,often used by society members on opera trips, will pass into history and for those who paid the extra francs to stay in the Donizetti suite (this year 330 Frs) a feeling of being very close to the man and his music.