Odeon Theatre

Odeon Theatre (45)

The Odeon Theatre is in the gardens of the Hôtel de Condé and was built during the last urban reorganisations of the Ancien Régime, precisely between 1778 and 1781.

Its intention was to open up the area to traffic and embellish the city with buildings and other elements that recall classical beauty. The project for the theatre corresponded to the architects Marie Joseph Peyre and Charles de Wailly.

The building was officially opened by the King’s Comedians on the 9th of April 1782. From that time on, new buildings were erected around it that took the theatre’s neoclassical style as their model.

Unfortunately, the Odeon has burnt down on two occasions. After the 1799 fire, the architect Chalgrin was entrusted to restore it and add remarkable decorative details in the vestibule, where he introduced colonnades in false marble and placed an Egyptian chimney flanked by two sphinxes, among other items.

But although it is an unarguably majestic building, perhaps the most important aspect is what can be found inside. If you are a fan of the theatre, try to get a ticket to see any of the plays it puts on.

Whether in the large hall, with a capacity for 990 spectators, or the small hall, for 150 people, the performances here are a real luxury. Just thinking about the battles that have taken place here or recalling the occupation of the place in May 1968 makes any musical note played transmit ten times the emotion.

Remember that in 1784 it was here where “The Marriage of Figaro” by Beaumarchais premiered and where Sarah Bernhardt made her debut in 1872 as the Queen of Spain in “Ruy Blas”. As a statistical anecdote, we can tell you that the director André Antoine managed to premiere no more and no less than 364 works here between 1906 and 1914. What a repertoire!

With or without a concert, if you visit it, look at the paintings on the ceiling. A delight by André Masson from 1965, which replaced the old ones by Jean-Paul Laurens from 1888.

Since 1990 this theatre has been known as the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe.

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