The Grand-Theatre, architectural jewel of Bordeaux

It is impossible to come to Bordeaux without seeing the Grand-Théâtre. Not far from the quays, it is the focal point of major areas of the city. With its imposing size and majesty. Its high-quality, dynamic and imaginative programming, make it a key part of 21st century culture.

Although the Grand Théâtre is also known as the Opéra National de Bordeaux (ONB), with building and function being closely intertwined, as an institution, this place of culture is also a place of entertainment widely open to various audiences. It also played host to Tango à l’Opéra, a programme with demonstrations, Tango classes and conferences. Far from the world of “classical mornings” that I attended, as a young college student having to familiarise herself with the repertoire of tragedies and comedies in the school’s programme for the year.

Without losing its aura, the Grand Théâtre has evolved with time, whilst always maintaining its excellence. Its architecture is fascinating with the twelve Corinthian columns at the front of the facade forming a gallery. They are surmounted by twelve statues, muses and goddesses of the arts, for the majority. The statues are the work of Pierre Berruer but the entirety of the building was imagined by Victor Louis who came up with a project, meeting the highest expectations of the Guyenne Governer and the jurats bordelais. Since 1780, the year of its inauguration, the Grand Théâtre has seen music and ballet lovers ever dazzled by its elegant vestibule and its grand staircase lit by an oculus. It directs and plays its part in the Route des Théâtres Historiques de France.

The building has been restored and adapted over time. The great hall, for example, has regained its original colours, the blue, white and gold-colours of royalty and no longer the red.It accommodates 1114 seats and no more than 1700 for comfort reasons. And the “small” 700-seat concert hall for chamber music, has been transformed into a big hall. Recently restored, its gold has rediscovered its shine. The largest theatrical employer outside of Paris, the ONB has 400 employees including 200 artists.The establishment has retained costumers, dressmakers and decorators. The programme is varied with lyrical, symphonic, baroque music, piano recitals, ballet and jazz. It also makes use of the Auditorium, a contemporary building located nearby, which has the largest orchestra pit in Europe.

The ONB is particularly interested in young audiences and devotes 15 specific shows to them each year. They also offer L’opéra en baskets for those under the age of 28, so that they can attend specific performances and meet the artists over a cocktail. In the upcoming months ONB will host Renaud Capuçon and David Fray who will interpret the sonnets from Bach and Beethoven, Daniel Barenboim or Nathalie Dessay. To visit the Bordeaux Grand Théâtre, you have to make a reservation beforehand.

Location: View on the map here

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