Tivoli Open Air
View Street, Bendigo
Also known as: Taits
Showing films from: 1910
The Tivoli Open Air cinema located in View Street, opened in March 1910 and was run by the two brothers Messrs. J. and N. Tait. As well as operating a number of cinemas and theatres in Melbourne and regional Victoria, the Tait family are very significant to the history of Australian film as they were responsible for the production of The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), a film that lasted for over an hour, making it the longest narrative film in the world at the time of production.
The Tait brothers knew the necessary ingredients to make cinema successful and they intended to bring that to the Tivoli in Bendigo. Knowing that pictures alone would not keep people entertained they employed a full orchestra to play during screenings. As the Advertiser reported at the time, ‘in addition to good pictures, the Bendigo playgoers are fond of good music’.
Music continued to be a popular feature at the Tivoli and no doubt the orchestra were given a run for their money when in November 1910, a film adapted from the well-known classical opera Il Trovatore was screened. The advertising for the film boasted it was over 1000ft. in length, in cinema’s early days, the length of a film would be indicated in feet not minutes.
The Taits put Mr Le Breton in charge of the management of the Tivoli. Le Breton later ran the Capital and the Star at Eaglehawk. In times of rain, Le Breton would move the film screenings down the road to the Princess’ Theatre – at least initially before it too was showing its own regular programme films.
Tivoli was operating until 1918 and possibly for some years after that.