Originally a neighbourhood movie theatre, the Rialto Theatre was built in 1923-1924 according to plans by Montreal architect Raoul Gariépy. The Beaux Arts façade was inspired by the Paris Opera while the neo-baroque interior features a rich décor signed Emmanuel Briffa. The Rialto Theatre was designated as a Historical Monument by the City of Montreal in 1988 and by the Government of Quebec in 1990, and also as National Historic Site of Canada in 1993.
A WORD FROM THE OWNER
The Rialto Theatre is one of Montreal’s most iconic buildings. Its graceful proportions and elegant details are a delight to behold. Our purchase of this heritage property in March of 2010 was made with the full knowledge that we are acting as custodians of the Rialto Theatre for the community at large and that we have a responsibility to restore and protect its unique architecture.
Beyond the bricks and mortar we have also given ourselves the mission to embolden and enliven the content and the programming available at the Rialto Theatre. For too long the theatre laid dormant and unused, which is why we fully intend to reanimate and revitalize it. We see the Rialto as a centre for the performing arts: open and inclusive, multilingual and multicultural, grounded in the present yet not afraid to wink at the past. We will give a platform to the emerging artists of the Montreal area, with a specific focus on Mile End, as well as the entire province of Quebec.
The Rialto Theatre has many friends and will need many more to flourish and thrive in the years ahead. We are eager to take on this challenge and put the Rialto Theatre back in business!
– Ezio Carosielli, March 30, 2010
IN THE MEDIA
The Rialto’s resurrection – The Gazette
Des lumières sur la marquise (in French only)
Feu sacré – Le Devoir (in French only)
A LITTLE PIECE OF HISTORY
The Rialto on a wintry day just before its opening on 27 December 1924. The ‘torch’ and the building-long iron-and-glass canopy are in place, and the ads for the opening movie, In Every Woman’s Life, are in the panels beside the doors. A florist, dress shop and tobacconist are among the stores already open.
The hall in 1930, with the great vaults of decorative plaster and stained glass on the ceiling and under the balcony. No other Montreal theatre had features quite like these, nor the amount or variety of both decorative plaster and stained glass. The vault’s colour-scheme was sombre: beige, gold and turquoise.
The corner of the upstairs vault. Note the plaster oak leaves and acorns, and the painted faces.
The downstairs vault in 1930. It may still be there, behind a false ceiling.
The lobby in 1930: lots of marble and a fancy lamp. The door on the left led to the loges, the next to the orchestra. The third door was an exit for those leaving the theatre, and the stairway led to the balcony.
No wonder people build with marble. This is the lobby stairway in 1987, unmarred by sixty years of use.
Dane Lanken, Montreal Movie Palaces: Great Theatres of the Golden Era 1884-1938 (Newcastle: Penumbra Press, 1993).
|The Standard, Montreal, Saturday, December 27, 1924.
Montreal’s New Luxury Theatre The Rialto
Park Avenue at Bernard
Opens To-Night at 8.15
The opening of the Rialto tonight marks another step forward in theatre building and welds still another link in the famous chain of theatres operated by the United Amusement Corp. Limited, which also includes the Strand, Regent, Papineau, Belmont, Plaza, Corona and Mount Royal.
We feel proud of the Rialto, and justly so, as the most brilliant brains in the country were secured to transform the highest quality materials into what we believe to be the finest constructed and most luxurious theatre in Canada.
We cordially welcome you to the Rialto and sincerely hope that you will become a regular patron and a friend. It will be a pleasure to serve you at all times and we will welcome any suggestions you may offer for the improvement of Rialto entertainment or service.
Policy of the New Rialto