The first theater in New Orleans, the St. Peter Street Theater, opened on October 4, 1792, and the first documented opera performance (Andre Gretry's Sylvain) took place within its walls in 1796. For the next eighteen years, through all sorts of financial ups and downs, crises of management and personnel, and competition from other theaters, the St. Peter Street Theater faithfully presented opera, ballet, and dramatic performances to the spectacle-loving citizens of New Orleans. The venture finally succumbed to a combination of pressures in 1810, and in 1816 the building burned, in the same fire that destroyed the first Orleans Theater.

The building shown here, 718 St. Peter, the current site of Pat O'Brien's, has repeatedly been identified (by the donor of this photograph and by a number of published sources) as the St. Peter Street Theater, clearly an impossibility since the building was destroyed long before the invention of photography. The actual site of the old theater was 732 St. Peter, and the structure on the site today was constructed in 1825. No drawings of the St. Peter Street Theater appear to have survived.

[Louisiana Photograph Collection]

From the time when Tabary first became director on March 1, 1806, to its closing, the St. Peter Street Theater, with a small assist from the one on St. Philip Street, gave at least three hundred fifty-one performances of seventy-six different operas. The works of thirty-two composers, the best in Europe, had been brought across the Atlantic and the Gulf. No other city in American and not too many in Europe could match this outpouring of opera.
[Henry A. Kmen. Music in New Orleans: The Formative Years, 1791-1841. Louisiana State University Press, 1966, p. 74]