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Tivoli / Opera House, Melbourne

Venue Summary
Name Tivoli / Opera House, Melbourne
Address 249 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Operation Dates 1871-01-01 - 1967-04-05
Capacity 1158
Suburban/Country City
Purpose Cinema
Screens 1
1966-01-01 - 1967-03-26 : Exhibitor : Stardawn Investments Pty Ltd
Venue Comments

Prior to be known as The Tivoli, the building was called 'Prince of Wales' and then the 'Opera House' (built 1871). The Opera House was badly built and poorly designed, becoming a danger to public safety. Operation dates for the Opera House based on Sands and McDougall listings (1900-1913) and newspaper reference.
Argus August 22 1896 (references moving pictures screening at the Opera House. Sole lesee and director Mr Harry Rickards) Opera House was demolished in 1899 and later renamed as the Tivoli in 1918.

The Tivoli Theatre was Melbourne's home of Vaudeville. Last performance April 2, 1966 (there was live television coverage of its final performance).

Tivoli Holdings, who controlled the Tivoli, leased the theatre to Stardawn Investments. The Tivoli Theatre was closed for a few weeks before opening again on May 26, 1966 with a screening of Harper: The Moving Target.

On April 5, 1967 the Tivoli was completely destroyed by a fire.


'Fire rages through Tivoli theatre' (Bertrand, I Cinema file: 249 Bourke St. (unpublished research)).

Cinema & Theatre Historical Society 1997, CInema index : Melbourne cinemas, suburban cinemas, Victorian drive-ins. CATHS, Victoria.

Film Weekly. ''Film Weekly: Motion Picture Directory". 1965/6.

Hanson, I, 'Tivoli Theatre- Melbourne's home of vaudeville', Kino, v.8, pp.12-20.

Hitchin, T 1970, "Enter a man with a hammer", The Sun 10 Feb, p.22.

Packer, R 1966, 'It is the Tivoli's last last night' The Sun, 2 April, p. 3.

Palmer, S 1966, 'So sadly, Jim farewells the old Tiv.' The Sun, 4 April, p. 2.

van Straten, F, 'The Tivoli: A chronology of Melbourne's home of vaudeville' (Bertrand, I Cinema file: 249 Bourke St. (unpublished research)).

The Age 1967 'Tivoli theatre burns at midnight', 5 April, p. 1 states
"...flames leapt 300ft in the air from a fire which today was burning fiercely in the well-known Tivoli theatre in Bourke Street...Until it was transformed into a cinema theatre last year the Tivoli had been the home of Melbourne's vaudevile for more than 60 years"

The Herald (3 November 1969) reports the demolition of Tivoli.

The Sun 1966, 'It's the Tivoli cinema', 20 April p.2.

The Sun 1966, 'Second debut' , 4 May, p. 48 contains reference to the closing and re-opening of the theatre. Theatre will start screening films.

Walters, T 2009, The Picture Palaces of Melbourne, pp. 204-5

Venue Events
Event Date Name of Venue Address Latitude /
Capacity Suburban Purpose Screens
1871-01-01 Opera House

Live Theatre
1966-05-26 Tivoli 249 Bourke Street
Victoria 3000
1158 City Cinema 1