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Opéra de Lyon


Last updated date : 19/07/2023

Topped by a majestic dome, the old theatre was restored by Jean Nouvel. He tripled the size of the building by digging out five levels beneath the surface and erecting six under the glass dome.

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Presentation of Lyon Opera House

It stands - singular and stately - opposite city hall in the heart of Lyon’s first district. It’s not a hard riddle: we’re obviously talking about the Lyon Opera House! It’s time to learn more about this majestic building to which all Greater Lyon residents feel deeply attached.

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Historic site and monument

Opéra de Lyon

Place de la Comédie - 69001 Lyon 1er

04 69 85 54 54

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The Lyon Opera House, a majestic urban landmark

Before the Opera House, there was the Grand Théâtre, built back in 1756 by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot, whose CV also includes the Panthéon, Saint-Geneviève church and Lyon’s Hôtel-Dieu no less! Following its renovation from 1827 to 1831 by architects Chenavard and Pollet, it took on its current name “Opéra”. But the Lyon Opera House has changed considerably since then to become the building it is today. New structural changes were orchestrated between November 1989 and 14 May 1993 by architect Jean Nouvel. He kept only the frontages and the public lobby, fully redesigning the venue’s structure to add a dome above and basement below. Nouvel’s redesign tripled the floor area by adding not only five basement floors but also a further six floors under the glass dome. The Lyon Opera House, which is equal parts monumental (glass half-cylinder) and minimalist (metal structure), is a landmark is the heart of the city centre.

The Lyon Opera team

The Lyon Opera has a full team… and then some! Between the Orchestra, Ballet, Choirs, and the rest of the team (technical, communication, security, administration, etc.), more than 350 people work every day at the Lyon Opera. Jobs in the spotlight or (on the contrary) backstage. They are also accompanied by a troupe of young trainee singers (Lyon Opéra Studio) and the La Maîtrise choir. La Maîtrise is the Lyon Opera’s children’s choir (plus a choir & stage school) managed by KL, which welcomes over a hundred children aged 7 and up. When not performing on the stage at the Lyon Opera House, the Orchestra travels from show to show worldwide. In 2017, the year that Daniele Rustioni was named musical director, the Orchestra even won two awards: the British press’s Opera Award for “Best Opera House” and the Opernwelt “Opera of the Year” prize. Richard Brunel, the Lyon Opera’s latest director, wants to make the opera house a venue with a global outlook, targeting an increasingly wide and eclectic audience.

The Lyon Opera’s commitments

The Lyon Opera House is a cultural venue that never rests on its laurels. It’s working hard to strengthen its brand, target all audiences, and address all sorts of contemporary issues. Ultimately, the Lyon Opera is admired as much for its commitment as it is for its modernity. The travelling opera heads out to perform in cities, districts, suburbs and rural communities across the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region. The Lyon Opera also puts on events for children.

Twice a year, as part of their modern languages curriculum, elementary school pupils learn about works of art and take part in artistic workshops, then put on an exhibition for parents and classmates alike. The Lyon Opera also does work in hospitals, prisons, etc. Below you’ll find a list of some of the many events put on by the Lyon Opera.

The Lyon Opera events

Featuring concerts, operas, and ballets, the Lyon Opera House’s programme is full and varied, and changes every year. Flagship events include the Festival Péristyle on summer evenings. Free concert follows free concert under the archways of the opera house. Festive and eclectic! The same is true of the other unmissable seasonal event: Opéra Underground. There’s plenty happening, including concerts, screenings, listening sessions, round tables, Q&As, etc. to promote world music. Every year, the Lyon Opera House organises a gala reception with profits going towards its social commitments and cultural activities.

Visiting the Lyon Opera House

You can visit the Lyon Opera House (and not just to applaud the Orchestra or Ballet). To learn all its secrets, visits are organised (individual, group or family tours during the school holidays). “Backstage” days are organised several times a year (particularly on European Heritage Days) to learn about the different stages of the creative process and explore the venue’s many workspaces. Fancy a fresh angle to admire the Lyon Opera House from, or rather the unobstructed view across the Capital of the Gauls visible from the top of the building? Bar des Muses. Head up to seventh heaven, or rather the seventh floor, then pick a spot on the mythical balcony to sip on a cocktail. It’s almost as though these eight statues standing on the Lyon Opera House’s pediment are part of the team… in any case they add an undeniable je-ne-sais-quoi to the place.


''Les Muses de l'Opéra"

How about getting a better view? Enjoy a drink with a unique view over Lyon at the Opera House’s “Les Muses” panoramic bar.