Théâtre de l'Odéon

The Hôtel des Saints Pères takes you behind the scenes of the Théâtre National de l’Odéon, at the heart of the 6th arrondissement in Paris, just next to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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l'hôtel des saints pères théâtre de l'odéon 2

Built in 1782, the oldest theatre-monument in Paris contains some true marvels of architecture. With a programme that is both classical and contemporary, the theatre has seen plays by some of the greatest authors performed here, including Barrault, Serreau and Lavaudant.

A national theatre

Built on the site of the Hôtel de Condé by the architects Charles de Wailly and Marie-Joseph Peyre, the Odéon Theatre is known, along with Les Ateliers Berthier theatre in the 17th arrondissement, as the "Théâtre de l’Europe". Since 1971, the Odéon has been one of France's six national theatres, alongside the Comédie-Française, the Colline, Chaillot, Strasbourg and the Opéra-Comique. It is located just 15 minutes away on foot from the Hôtel des Saints Pères.

The outside of the building, in a neo-classical style, is inspired by Ancient Greek monuments with its cubic shapes, columns and arcades. It is an Italian-style theatre with a semi-oval auditorium. Since 1947 the theatre has been listed as an historic monument. At the Odéon Theatre classical plays are performed, as well as contemporary works by such authors as Serreau, Gémier, Barrault, Giorgio, Strehler or Georges Lavaudan. The institution is known for intelligently blending classicism and modernity, which is the reason for its success. 

Marvels of architecture

The theatre's foyer opens on to two majestic stone staircases. Upstairs, the Grand Foyer displays sculptures of Racine and Corneille, as well as paintings in harmony with the spirit of the theatre.

The auditorium was the first Parisian theatre to provide benches for spectators to sit down. The red seats underline the fact that the theatre was once owned by the Comédie Française. The ceiling of the auditorium is remarkable. It is the work of André Masson, and evokes the theme of Apollo and the Sun. We can also see depictions of Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Kleist and Claudel, symbolising comedy and tragedy. The three attitudes to life are also presented in the work: jubilation, pain and meditation. 

Lastly the Roger Blin Room, which was transformed by Jean-Louis Barrault into a mini theatre in 1967, is today a place for reading since it houses the theatre library as well as meetings and events. Its name is in reference to the great director, who notably worked at the Théâtre de l’Europe. 

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