National Opera of Lyon, France

Opéra de Lyon, having for object “to promote the lyric art and the dance in Lyon and in the region Rhône-Alpes”. It has a building with two rooms: a large room with 1,100 seats and the amphitheater with 200 seats. based and performing mostly at the Opéra Nouvel, an 1831 theater that was modernized and architecturally transformed in 1993. The national opera of Lyon is a member of the ROF (Réunion des Operas de France), RESEO (European network for opera and dance awareness) and Opera Europa.

The inaugural performance of François-Adrien Boïeldieu’s La Dame blanche was given on 1 July 1831. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries saw some significant French premieres of major operas including Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger in 1896, Giordano’s Andrea Chénier in the following year, and Moussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in 1913. In addition, many world premieres such as Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung (1967) have been presented.

In the years after the 1969 appointment of Louis Erlo as general director, many innovative productions and premieres of both French operas and Twentieth Century operas have been staged. Two significant French artists who have been associated with the Opéra in recent years are the stage director, Laurent Pelly, and the soprano, Natalie Dessay.

Past principal conductors at the company have included André Cluytens, John Eliot Gardiner, Kent Nagano, Louis Langrée, Iván Fischer, and Kazushi Ono. Since the start of the 2017-2018 season, the company’s current principal conductor (chef permanent) of the company is Daniele Rustioni, whose appointment to the post was announced in March 2015. The current choirmaster of the company is Philip White, since 2015.

The company has an affiliated corps de ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet. As well, the company has a children’s choir, La Maîtrise (masterclass), was created in 1990 to form a top-level choir of young soloists. Since 1993, it has a status similar to other French musical schools.

The opera house
The Opéra de Lyon is an opera house in the city of Lyon. It is located on Place de la Comédie, opposite the town hall. Built in 1831 by Antoine-Marie Chenavard and Jean-Marie Pollet, it was completely restructured and extended between 1989 and 1993 by Jean Nouvel. The architectural project won the Prix de l’Équerre d’argent du Moniteur in 1993.

It houses a performance hall mainly assigned to the Lyon National Opera, which features operas, ballets and concerts and which can accommodate 1,100 spectators. It is the residence of the Opéra de Lyon ballet. The Opéra de Lyon, subsidized by the city of Lyon (60%), the Rhône department (10%), the Rhône-Alpes region (10%) and the State (20%), has an annual budget of around 35 million euros. In 2011, the average age of spectators was 47 years

A first theater was built here by Soufflot during the 18th century. Nevertheless, the theatre soon became too small and the architects Chenavard and Pollet rebuilt a brand new one in a neo-classical style in 1830. At the beginning of the 1980s, out of age and not meeting the needs any more, the Opera had to be renewed. A competition for architects was thus launched and won in 1986 by Jean Nouvel. The new Opera of Lyon was inaugurated in May 1993 and is now part of the international architectural heritage. Outside the opera house, Nouvel only kept the outer walls. He also dug new underground levels and added a semi-cylindrical dome that is used by dancers. On the opera house front wall, 8 muses have been kept in place (Uranie, the 9th one was removed to respect the symmetry of the building).

In 1756, one of the first opera houses created inside an existing freestanding building was opened in Lyon. It was designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, the architect of the Panthéon in Paris. By early in the following century it was found to be too small, and Antoine-Marie Chenavard and Jean-Marie Pollet erected the new Lyon theatre which opened on July 1, 1831. It was considered rather undistinguished, but served its purpose.

It was not until 1985 that the City decided to once again re-build the opera house, but this time it was to be within the shell of the existing 1831 building. One of France’s most distinguished architects was commissioned to create the house.

The style of the house is essentially Italian with a horseshoe-shaped auditorium and tiers of boxes.

Leaving only the existing foyer and the exterior façade, Nouvel tripled the space within the house by excavating below ground to create rehearsal space and, most strikingly, by doubling the height of the building by creating a steel and glass barrel vault which hid the fly tower as well as providing space for the ballet company. It has been noted that this achievement was “an architectural tour de force, in which the past has been successfully wedded to the future..”, albeit with the limited backstage space of the 19th-century theatre still remaining.

The old building
The main facade is surmounted by 8 statues representing 8 of the 9 muses. Guillaume Bonnet, sculptor, made at least two of these statues: Erato and Thalie. The 9th muse (Urania, muse of astrology) could not be carried out, for lack of space.

Nouvel’s building
Jean Nouvel has only kept the four facades and the public foyer, part of the historic building from the former Chenavard and Pollet theater. With a volume of 77,100 m 3 and a surface area of 14,800 m 2, the opera house consists of 18 floors, the first 5 of which are hollowed out in the ground and the last 5 are located in the glass roof whose top is Found 42 m from the ground, plus 20 m from basements.

The exterior of the building was initially very criticized, in particular because of the glass roof at the top of the building (occupied by a snack bar, the administration of the Opera and the dance studios). It is now part of the urban landscape and seems well accepted by the Lyonnais and recognized as a successful example of contemporary renovation.

The interior of the building, object of a world first, in “suspended scene”, on metal pillars, is often admired as having made a remarkable exploitation of the constraints of the place, and as example of a modernized vision of what can be. an opera venue.

Critics, mainly of comfort, are expressed on certain points: the somber character of an almost entirely black room accompanied by narrow and cold access to the room; over the six balconies in the large room, many seats suffer from reduced visibility; deplorable comfort for spectators seated on plastic seats; in addition, disastrous acoustics both on the stage for the performers and for the spectators, the room being entirely padded. The limited capacity (1,100 seats) of the hall, although larger than the average, also poses problems in a city the size of Lyon. Finally, serious initial problems of

The square
Since the 1990s, the arcades of the forecourt of the Opéra de Lyon have welcomed break dance practitioners, who train there regularly, arousing the interest of passers-by; some companies, like the Pockemon Crew Company, started out like this. Indeed, alternating between the street and the arches of the Opera, and requesting access to the amphitheater, it was accepted in residence in 2003, their first title of World Champion.

The Grand foyer
Witness of the 1831 theater, the Grand Foyer du public, located on the floor of the large auditorium, provides a counterpoint to the new architecture. Its restored original decor is reflected in the polished black granite floor. The ceiling paintings by Lyon artist Daumer represent allegories of music. The names of composers appear at the top of the columns, thus paying homage to the lyrical heritage of the time.

The High Foyer
The Foyer Haut is located on the front and opens onto the city with an exceptional panorama: the roofs of the Town Hall, the slopes of Croix-Rousse and the Fourvière hill. This modular space can be segmented and adapts to many event configurations (work meetings, conferences, cocktails, etc.).

A multifaceted cabaret, the Amphi is inspired by the architecture of the Greco-Roman theater with an audience seated in a semi-circle around the stage. Composed of both a stage and a bar area, the Amphi – the jazz and world music stage of the Opéra de Lyon – offers the possibility of creating several atmospheres. It allows you to organize plenary meetings as well as receptions or even private concerts.

The red room
An intimate suspended setting, this living room which combines elegance and intimacy offers a setting suspended inside the building. Built in symmetry, it offers the rest of the red bench which runs over its entire length, and 2 bars. As under the Peristyle, the reproduction of the ceiling recalls its prestigious past as a former theater.

The Grand Studio of the Ballet
A magical glass roof, the Grand Studio du Ballet, located just under the rounded glass roof so characteristic of Jean Nouvel’s architecture, opens onto an exceptional panorama from the top of the Opera. This rehearsal room for ballet dancers makes it possible to organize, in addition to conferences or cocktails, seated meals in a magical atmosphere.

The big room
A masterpiece of modernity, black color is the dominant color of Jean Nouvel’s Opera, allows the attention to be concentrated on the stage in the Great Hall and invites to the theater. The modernity of this Italian-style hall, which reminds us how much opera, music and dance must remain contemporary arts, is suitable for large-scale plenary sessions, conferences, awards ceremonies or private concerts.

The Muses
Facing the Town Hall with Fourvière as a backdrop, the former Les Muses restaurant offers companies the opportunity to organize their events in an exceptional location benefiting from a large terrace bordered by the famous statues of the muses. Illuminated at night, they give this space a unique atmosphere.

On the 7th floor, like a 7th heaven, the Muses de l’Opéra panoramic bar opens onto a terrace with a breathtaking view of Lyon. Ideal for a drink or to nibble on some aperitif sweets between Euterpe and Terpsichore.

Business Space
The Opéra de Lyon is rolling out its red carpet for you. In the heart of the city, the Opéra de Lyon offers you the opportunity to organize your corporate and public relations events in a prestigious setting. The Opéra de Lyon, rebuilt by Jean Nouvel in 1993 is considered to be one of the greatest successes of the second half of the 20th century in terms of theatrical architecture. With its original facade and the historic public foyer integrated into a resolutely contemporary building, it is today part of the international architectural heritage and, like its program, creates a dialogue between history and modernity. The Opera opens its backstage, its private lounges, its large hall, its dance studio, its reception areas and invites you to immerse yourself in its world.

Space rental
From the organization of a convention to a press conference, from a cocktail reception to a prestigious dinner, we adapt to your project and we offer you an exceptional tailor-made event. More than a place, the Opera offers you a unique setting and an artistic universe that will surprise and fascinate your guests.

Restaurants and bars
Before feeding your soul, and even during the intermission, there is always time for the opera to indulge in a little culinary pleasure. And to do it well. The choice is wide with no less than four places to eat for as many formulas serving simple but demanding catering.

The Bars
Because the opera makes you thirsty, and not only to those who sing it, each room of the opera has its bar, the Amphi (on level -2) and the Grand Foyer (on the level of the parterre de la Grande Hall), open one hour before each performance and during intermission. A la carte: snacks made from local and artisanal products to combine homemade and seasonal cuisine.

Events and festivals

Gala evening of the Opéra de Lyon
Every year since 2006, the Opéra de Lyon has organized a major charity evening to carry out its actions with people far from the cultural offer. Indeed, for more than 10 years, the Opéra de Lyon has carried out numerous cultural and educational actions, with its cultural development pole, in order to allow as many people as possible to meet opera, music, dance: young people from neighborhoods in difficulty, the elderly or disabled, adults in integration, prisoners and the sick. The Gala Evening is organized in favor of the development and the implementation of these actions.

Each year, involve your company in this charity event, and invite your clients or employees to this unique event. On the program, a performance in a large hall followed by a prestigious dinner in the emblematic spaces of the Opéra de Lyon: the Grand Studio du Ballet under the glass roof of the Opera and the stage in the Grand Hall.


Ballet of the Opéra de Lyon
The ballet of the Opéra de Lyon is the dance company attached to the National Opera of Lyon. Its repertoire is solely oriented towards the promotion and creation of modern dance and contemporary dance. Heir to the company responsible for providing the entertainment in the operas in Opera Lyon at the end of the xvii th century, the ballet of the Opera de Lyon takes its autonomy in 1969, under the director of the pulse Louis Erlo. In 1984, the artistic direction was entrusted to Françoise Adret, who renamed it Lyon Opera Ballet and brought in contemporary choreographers in residence. Under the direction of Yorgos Loukos (1991), the resident choreographer is Maguy Marin (1991-1994).

Successive directors have also developed collaborations for the creation or cover by the corps de ballet of a piece by Jiří Kylián, Maguy Marin, Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, Tero Saarinen, Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Russell Maliphant, Angelin Preljocaj, Benjamin Millepied, etc.

Since 2005, the Resource Poles for Artistic and Cultural Education (PRÉAC) have been tasked with forging and strengthening links between those involved in culture and those in education. They aim to bring together, train and support the various actors in artistic and cultural education in carrying out projects, by developing two essential axes:

The production and promotion of educational resources, the organization of meeting and training time for EAC actors (teachers, artists, cultural and popular education mediators, project managers involved in artistic and cultural education, trainers of trainers and resource persons of National Education).

Vocal expressions, the fruit of work carried out by the DAACs of Grenoble, Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand, the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Canopé and the Opéra de Lyon, the PREAC Opéra-expressions vocales, created in 2018, irrigates the entire territory of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Coordinated by the Opéra de Lyon, it is committed to promoting the implementation of a rich artistic and cultural education allowing encounters, artistic practices and the development of knowledge. Without limiting itself to lyrical art, the PRÉAC is dedicated to vocal expressions understood in all their diversity.