Have you ever heard of The Théatre des Champs-Elysées ? Despite the name, it is not on Les Champs-Elysées but not far at all, Avenue Montaigne. I must say that I did not know much about the place (despite being a Parisian !) and I was so pleasantly surprised when I visited it. It is a hidden gem with a rich history and a fantastic program.
The Théâtre des Champs-Elysées opened in 1913. It was constructed by those who contributing to his financing. Later, Ganna Walska, a rich American, financed the theatre for decades. The building is remarkable for having been designed by a group of very well-known artists : architects Henry Van de Velde, Auguste Perret; the painter and sculptor Antoine Bourdelle; the painter Maurice Denis, and the crystal maker René Lalique amongst others. It was the first building to be made entirely out of reinforced concrete. The Théâtre is a jewel of 20th century French architecture and it was one of the first modern edifices to become a listed building, figuring on the register of the Monument historiques.
Since its beginning the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées has been a reference point as a major concert hall and opera house. The creator, Gabriel Astruc, wanted Paris to have a concert hall to rival those of its European neighbours. The theatre has always been home to diverse art forms such as opera, ballet, symphony concert and recitals. There is a very long list of artists who graced its stage from Joséphine Baker to Claude Nougaro or Elton John. Note that without going to see a show, you can also sometimes visit the theatre with a guide to learn about its rich past and all the beautiful sculpture and paintings inside.
Of course, with the current situation, the theater is closed and all performances are cancelled until 27th of June. Hopefully after that, it will be possible to go and see a show. Their program from 2020-2021 is once more wonderful. Here is a selection of upcoming shows that may interest the anglophone community (and others!). Note that many shows offer French and English surtitles :
10/20: Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel – film and concert (young audience)
10/20: Royal Swedish Ballet – dance
12/20: Sleeping Beauty – opera and ballet
01/21: Kit Armstrong, piano – recital
01/21: Eleonora Abbagnato Project: Lucrezia Borgia – danse (based on the play by Victor Hugo – which also inspired the name of Buffalo Bill’s rifle!)
03/21: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – opera
03/21: Malpaso Dance Company – Cuban Contemporary danse
04/21: Concert France-Amérique by the Paris conservatoire and The Fontainebleau Schools
04/21: Ballet National du Canada – dance
06/21 : La Somnambule – opera sang in Italian with French and English surtitles. With the American soprano opera singer Nadine Sierra.
Note also that they created the American Friends of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in order to widen their patrons’ circle worldwide. Building bridges between France and the United States is one of their main objectives. Play your part and deepen your involvment with the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées! Support them and enjoy many behind-the-scene benefits. By donating to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, you will associate your name with a remarkable institution committed to providing arts of the highest quality. More info here.
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