The Odéon ‑ Théâtre de l'Europe
After its doors opened in 1782, the Théâtre de l'Odéon is the oldest theatre monument in Paris. What characterizes this building is the austerity of its underlying cubic forms, its great mass, and Doric order, to which its two architects added the following justification: it is in keeping with the order of Apollo, the leader of the Muses. The building’s monumental aspect is reminiscent of the grandeur of the monuments of Ancient Greece...
The Roger Blin Room, created at the close of the XIXth century, was originally a small foyer opening onto the theatre’s main foyer. Since its transformation into a tiny theatre laboratory space by Jean-Louis Barrault in 1967, it now serves as a space for readings and talks. It is also home to the theatre’s library.
Once inside the building, we enter into the square-shaped vestibule and its columns belonging to the Tuscan Doric order. The vestibule opens onto two symmetrical monumental staircases. The front part of the building was spared from the two fires dating back to 1799 and 1818, and is separated from the theatre by a thick masonry wall. It comprises the vestibule, staircases and entry hall.
After the fire of 1799, Chalgrin (the architect of the Triumphal arch) was charged by Napoleon of the rebuilding.
The theatre was originally of circular layout but was given an elliptical design as part of Chalgrin’s restoration work in 1808. It was the first of the Parisian theatres to provide bench seating for pit audiences. As a result of the restoration work which lead to its reopening in 2006, the theatre now seats up to 800 spectators.
The renovation of the theatre (2003-2006) made it possible to modify the scene-room ratio. For the needs of contemporary scenography, and to simplify the reception of the spectacles from other theatres, it was decided to put the scene at horizontal (and on the level of the street, to facilitate the entry of the scenery).
The current ceiling (1965), by André Masson, is an elaboration around the central theme of the Apollo-sun figure, in addition to different tragic and dramatic figures.
The Ateliers Berthier were built by Charles Garnier in 1895 for the Opéra de Paris (of which he was the architect) and served as a warehouse for storing stage sets until the 1950’s. In January 2003, the Salle des Ateliers Berthier, situated on Boulevard Berthier in the 17th arrondissement, was turned into a public building in order to serve as a temporary venue during construction work in the Odéon’s historic theatre between 2002 and 2006.
In May 2005, the Ateliers Berthier were officially designated as the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe’s second theatre, and have a seating capacity of 390 spectators.
The Odéon Theatre first opened in 1782 to house France's national theatre, the Comédie Française, and is an excellent example of 18th century architecture, located near the Luxembourg gardens and palace on Paris's Left Bank where it has been witness to many upheavals, both artistic and political. The Odéon has always been closely tied to the French State and is now one of the six national theatres in France fully funded by the Ministry for Culture. In 1990 it became the "Théâtre de l'Europe", to conduct the mission of "fostering joint projects with stage directors, actors, playwrights and other figures involved in the dramatic arts in Europe, to present new works and breathe new life into Europe's artistic heritage".
The King's actors were provided with the first "monument/theatre" in Paris. It stood as the central feature in a town planning design for land owned by the Prince de Condé. The project was exemplary for both the scale in the urban setting and the harmonious proportions of the interior. It was also the first theatre where the audience in the stalls were seated on benches.
This nation shall have Paris as capital, but it shall not be called France, it shall be called Europe.
Victor Hugo, 1867
Since 1990 The Odéon's mission is to "bring life to the artistic heritage of Europe".