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The chandelier found at the Avignon Opera

What luster! The term can also be understood in its various senses. Cascading down from the ceiling, the huge light that illuminates the hall of the Avignon Opera is one of the jewels of the renovation of the premises. Designed by Sylvie Maréchal, it was imagined as “a contemporary jewel in the shape of a heart”, explains Arnaud Lanez, director of communication and development of the Opera. Its 626 white Limoges porcelain pendants, all different, cascade over 5.50 m – for a weight of 550 kg. The effect is dramatic and moving, light and air playing imperceptibly with “this modern and sumptuous work” which, moreover, was “calculated” to promote acoustics and not obstruct the vision of the spectators placed at the very top of the theatre.

This chandelier fully participates in the… chandelier found in the building inaugurated in 1847, next to the town hall designed by the same architect, Léon Feuchères. The beautiful white stone facade, framed by statues of Molière and Corneille, encourages the music lover but also the simple visitor to cross the doors. To attend a show of course, but also to listen, in the new “room of preludes”, to a conference, an educational workshop or one of the midday concerts, offered free of charge, making the Opera a place of life and not only the setting for prestigious lyrical evenings. “The beating heart of Avignon, the Place de l’Horloge is the locals’ favorite meeting place, and we want them to come see us without hesitation”confirms Arnaud Lanez.

With its 125 permanent staff – artistic, administrative and technical staff – the Opera is a small city within a city whose material conditions required serious updating, both on the public and backstage side. The stage cage has been completely redone and computerized, the orchestra pit widened and deepened, to accommodate up to 70 instrumentalists. Mainly those of the Orchester national Avignon-Provence, which ensures the lyrical season and also programs its symphonic concerts under the direction of its conductor, Debora Waldman. “It was a very large project, insists Arnaud Lanez, which also concerned the roof, subject to infiltrations, and, of course, the hall. »

One hundred and sixty patrons, grouped together in a club whose godmother is the soprano Julie Fuchs, a former student at the Avignon Conservatory, have contributed to the replacement of the armchairs, which are more comfortable and more spaced out. From 1,120 places, the gauge has increased to 940: “The fourth and last balcony has, in particular, been reduced by half, from 200 to 100 seats, so that spectators feel comfortable”emphasizes Arnaud Lanez, even admitting a predilection for this “paradise” from which one embraces the scene while admiring the chandelier very closely… The paintings on the ceiling have been meticulously restored after previous work, at the end of the 1970s, had “Paid a coat of varnish on the filth!” ».

The old rose color of the seats and the stage curtain, the new floor, the eggshell shade of the walls give the room a benevolent light and nourishes the pleasure of the eyes, preparing for that of the ear. “Practical detail but important in a hot region like ours, we were able to install air vents under each seat or almost”indicates the director of communication.

To stretch their legs during intermission, spectators stroll through the grand foyer and, on sunny days, take some fresh air on the stone balcony with an unobstructed view of the Place de l’Horloge. He can also participate in meetings or concerts offered by the Opera, such as this debate with the tenor Sébastien Guèze, author of Bioperaan essay on the ecological and civic issues of the lyrical world (1). “This significant moment fully responded to our desire to open up the premises to contemporary questions, to make it a crossroads of ideas and proposals on the links between art and society”pleads Arnaud Lanez.