Just a stone’s throw from its namesake, the Champs-Élysées, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées with its imposing concrete facade is an Art Deco masterpiece, and its exceptional acoustics have made it a temple of classic and contemporary music. We met with director Michel Franck to find out more.
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Inaugurated in 1913, the TCE was born thanks to Gabriel Astruc, a renowned impresario of the time. «Fully built in concrete by the Perret brothers, the building was designed to be an immense cultural hub divided into three distinct parts,» says Michel Franck. «The Grande Salle for operas and ballets, the Comédie for plays, and the Studio for fine arts right at the top.»
The TCE quickly became an iconic creative space. «The year it opened, the world’s first showing of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring caused a scandal,» says Michel Franck. «The 1920s saw performances by the Royal Swedish Ballets. Next year we will be celebrating the 100-year anniversary with a reproduction of Honegger’s Skating Rink featuring the original set design by Fernand Léger. Varese’s Deserts then made a huge impact in 1954. After renovation work in 1988, the site became a leading name in its field. The space was designed to welcome both concerts and operas, which is extremely rare.»
After being appointed director in 2009, Michel Franck refocused on fresh creations and contemporary operas. «I wanted the program to combine big stars and young singers,» he says. «By operating as a private theater, we enjoy a subsidy from the French Public Financing Institution which owns the property. This has enabled me to develop the repertoire to include more original creations and bel canto productions, offer young people initiatives with the Participative Opera program, and provide a reasonable pricing policy.»
With Haendel’s Messiah directed by Bob Wilson, Salome by Strauss revisited by Krzysztof Warlikowski, and a creation from the Royal Swedish Ballet directed by Nicolas Le Riche and set to Debussy’s The Toy Box, next season is set to be eventful!
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