WATCH ABOVE: The Rialto Theatre has a unique place in Canadian history and since it first opened its doors in 1924, it has been a key landmark on Parc Avenue in Montreal. Rachel Lau reports.
MONTREAL – The Rialto Theatre has a unique place in Canadian history and since first opening its doors in 1924, it has been a key landmark on Parc Avenue in Montreal.
In 1993, the theatre was designated as one of the National Historic Sites of Canada. Renowned for its beaux-arts style interior and 1860s-inspired architecture, its design was influenced by the Paris Opera House.
“It’s an amalgam of all sorts of styles,” said Ezio Carosielli, director and co-owner of the Rialto.
“But you can see the elegant detail and the beauty which come from another time and it’s also something you could see in France.”
Formerly a movie palace, where people would go to see silent films accompanied by a live orchestra.
Since then, many attempts have been made to revive the theatre, but none have been successful – until Carosielli and his wife Luisa Sassano stepped in, turning the Rialto into a family business.
“It’s a beautiful, inspiring building,” said Carosielli. “I reached a time in my life where I was looking for a way to measure success otherwise than with money. So I decided to take on this project. My wife Luisa supported me in this endeavour.”
“We have a sort of mum and pop kind of approach.”
Carosielli books the live acts that perform at the Rialto, which range from dance groups to Beatles tribute bands. Sassano handles all the details and has been fondly nicknamed “boss lady” by their employees.
“We’re both quite green with regards to this type of the entertainment industry,” said Sassano.
“But I think that with our personal touch with that we have a sort of mum and pop kind of approach to the whole ordeal, we’re here all the time.”
In fact, the husband and wife duo have a special personal connection to the Rialto: they had one of their first dates here.
“I remember Ezio saying you know one of these days I’m going to own this theatre,” said Sassano.
“In my head I was thinking boy this guy’s a dreamer. And lo and behold, some 25 years, 30 something years later, here we are.”
The theatre has been through its ups and downs, but Carosielli says business has never been better – and possibilities remain sky high for the Rialto.
Take a look at the splendour behind the facade: