William Norris, Managing Director
Well it’s been a rather grey couple of days here in Versailles, with lots of cloud, strong winds and persistent drizzle. This has of course prompted lots of ‘you must be used to this’ jokes, coming as I do from London…
Built between 1763 and 1770 the Opera House is part of the Palace of Versailles and was built for Luis XV. At the time it was lit by ten thousand candles (so it is somewhat miraculous that it hasn’t burnt down), and it was opened with music by Lully – his opera Persée.
Apparently the theatre was not actually used a huge amount – partly because of the enormous cost of lighting those ten thousand candles… (surely by the time you’d lit the last the first would be out?!)
During the 1950’s the opera was closed for a thorough restoration, and reopened in 1957 (nice British-Canadian link here) in the Presence of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Since a further restoration in 2007 (mostly of backstage areas) the opera has hosted a pretty busy schedule of performances, indeed it is probably busier now than it ever was.
Anyway, that’s probably enough history. Sitting in during the first half of the dress rehearsal yesterday my stomach made it known that I hadn’t yet had dinner yet, as I’d been unable to eat prior due to those annoyingly strict opening times of local restaurants. Mindful of the fact I am lucky enough to see the performance twice while here and also not wanting to inflict my rumbling stomach on the band I headed out to find some food during the break…
Today is, if anything, even greyer. Some of our musicians headed to the nearby Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles to play quartets, check out some rare editions and discover rare composers. It sounds like some kind of Baroque musicians heaven!
Tonight sees the opening night of Armide – a full report in my next blog.