Théâtre National de l' Odéon



  • A theater in the Latin Quarter of Paris, which opened in 1781as the home of the Comédie-Française.In 1784 Beaumarchais's The Marriage of Figaro had its premierethere. The venue was renamed the Odéon in 1795, becoming oneof France's four state-supported theaters in 1807. It was reconstructedby the playwright and manager Louis-Benoît Picard (1769 - 1828)in 1816 but burned down two years later. Picard rebuilt it as a theaterfor light comedy and operetta and continued as manager until 1821.

    The Odéon established a reputation for serious dramain the 1830s. Sarah Bernhardt, who first played there in1866, was responsible for converting the theater into a field hospitalduring the siege of Paris (1870). In 1906 André Antoine (1858 - 1943)was appointed director and completely modernized the building. Underthe leadership (1922 - 30) of the director Firmin Gémier(1869 - 1933) the Odéon became virtually an avant-gardeNational People's Theatre. After World War II the Ministry of Artsmerged the Odéon company with the Comédie-Française,renaming the theater the Salle Luxembourg. The Odéon becameindependent of the Comédie-Française once more in 1959when Jean-Louis Barrault was appointed director; the venuewas now renamed the Théâtre de France. In 1966 riotsoccurred inside and outside the theater when Barrault produced Genet'splay about the Algerian war, The Screens. Further trouble eruptedin 1968 following a performance given as part of the Théâtredes Nations festival, when the theater became a base for student rioters.Barrault was dismissed and took his troupe away, leaving the theaterwithout a company. The Odéon reverted to this name and was reassignedin 1971 to the Comédie-Française, which used it mostly as avenue for new and avant-garde works or for visiting provincial and foreigncompanies.

    A new chapter in the history of the Odéon began in 1983, whenit became home to Giorgio Strehler's Théâtre del'Europe, a body designed to facilitate cultural cooperation across theEU. The theater was officially renamed the Odéon-Théâtrede l'Europe in 1990.