The Chorégies of Orange
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Chorégies of Orange
"Chorégies and concerts". © Gromelle Grand Angle - CHO 2008
With the Antique Theatre where it takes place every summer, major site for spectacles during the Roman era and the sole construction to have its acoustic wall still intact, and with all the great names of the operatic art who have performed, and continue to perform, there, the international prestige of the Chorégies of Orange, over the years, continues to grow.
History of the Chorégies
It is the oldest festival in France – the first to have re-established the tradition of the open-air spectacle. Originally called the “Fêtes Romaines”, with a first production in 1869 of the opera Joseph by the French composer Mehul, the Antique Theatre of Orange, which had at that time been recently restored, was primarily devoted to a return to the great Greco-Roman tragedies. In 1902 the festival, by now with a programme every summer, was given the name “Chorégies”, from the Greek choreos, and received the great names of the French stage, such as Sarah Bernhard in Phèdre in 1903. Then, from 1969, the theatrical part of the Chorégies was transferred to the festival of Avignon. In 1971, the “Nouvelles Chorégies” were initiated, exclusively devoted to opera, and at once enjoyed international success with productions of great works such as Puccini's Tosca, Verdi's Aida and Bizet's Carmen, performed by the great names of opera (Barbara Hendrix, Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, etc.).
The “Wall” of the Antique Theatre
A heritage of imperial Rome, built in the 1st century AD, the Antique Theatre of Orange, recognised as a world heritage site by Unesco, is the best preserved theatre in Europe. It can accommodate 8600 spectators, and has retained its stage “Wall” (103 metres long, 37 metres high), which is a considerable advantage as it contributes hugely to the exceptional acoustics and constitutes the architectural decor of the theatre.