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The Theatre of Mirecourt

Mirecourt is a pretty small eastern French town. It features a small theatre-opera facility seating 200. The unknowing would wonder why such a small town would have such a facility until discovering that there are many famous string instrument manufacturers living there. It featured a reverberation time of 1.5 s, but the stage area and open orchestra pit area were quite limited. When a possible major renovation of the facility was studied at the end of the 1990s, it was found that an increase of capacity would not be possible without significantly altering the architectural appearance of the place. As the operation was uneconomical, it was decided to drop the opera and theatre activities.

Th e Opera of Lyon

For many years the French city of Lyon had enjoyed a facility known as the grand theatre. It featured a performance hall and its entrance hall, as well as a small stage tower and administrative or technical rooms. The presence of an orchestra pit offered the opportunity to hold opera performances too.

In the 1980s, an ambitious project was launched to provide Lyon with a real opera facility. An international competition was held; due to the historical interest of the building, the fagades and main foyer were to be kept. Architect Jean Nouvel won this competition and designed a construction in which the lower part was made of the existing fagades. It was topped by a large construction terminating with a glazed half cylinder that was housing the administration, the dressing rooms, and the dance rehearsal and training rooms.

Due to the limited surface of the allocated area, extra space had to be found vertically. This resulted in a configuration where the choir’s and the orchestra rehearsal rooms were located in the basement, with their attending smaller individual spaces located around.

In order to achieve the loading/unloading of the back scenes, a larger door than the original was needed. However, due to the historical classification of the building’s fagades, it was out of the question to open a new door. It was eventually found possible to have part of the fagade as a mobile unit with an acoustic door behind, with space enough in the elevator to hoist a full trailer.

The opera itself seats 1300 with three balconies; with a reverberation time of 1.3 s, it is particularly well suited for French opera, as it is a good compromise between intelligibility and musical fullness. In order to increase the sound insulation of the performance hall with regard to the rehearsal rooms and the street level, it is suspended from the upper part of the structure [5].

 
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