The Lyon National Opera was for many years the first of its kind outside Paris, endowed with a National Symphony Orchestra and a ballet company. A centre of creation, of production of lyrical, musical and choreographic shows of national and international standing, it is considered to be one of the most dynamic operas due to its worldwide creations and the number of international tours it makes. It was initially built by the architects, Chenavard and Pollet who designed the imposing neo-classical building in 1830. A century later, in 1993, Jean Nouvel refurbished the whole building, keeping just the original outside walls and the entrance hall, and capping it all with a huge dome covering the dancers’ training rooms. As a result, Lyon has been able to keep its opera right in the middle of the city, just opposite the City Hall, unlike most of the larger European cities who have to build their new opera houses on their outskirts in order to meet today’s requirements. The dome on top of the opera, which glows red at night time depending on what is happening below in the auditorium, shelters vast dance rooms and a restaurant with a magnificent view of the City Hall and the Croix Rousse.
The Lyon Auditorium also has its own National Orchestra. Its inventive and varied programmes not only attract real music-lovers, but also the general public. Lunchtime “expresso” concerts, initiation sessions for children, as well as the cine-concerts in partnership with the Lumière Institute, the concert and football match seats in cooperation with the Olympique Lyonnais or even the “From One World to the Other” festival (music from the world over) are all as many original initiatives that add to the auditorium’s cultural wealth.
Entirely refurbished, “Les Celestins”, Lyon’s city-centre theatre, mixes tradition and modernity. The building, included in the “extra list” of historic monuments in March 1997, has kept all the majesty of its original architecture, whilst offering today’s comfort and technical qualities at the same time; it is a magnificent example of the Italian or proscenium style theatre.
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