Posted on Sep 28, 2021 at 2:06 PM
Stéphane Lissner had made it his hobbyhorse. But one after his arrival in the midst of a pandemic, his successor, the new director of the Paris Opera, Alexander Neef, 47, decided. The famous large “modular room” of the Opéra-Bastille, ardently desired for thirty-five years, will not see the light of day, at least in the short term. “Before the summer, it was decided to suspend the project”, confides Alexander Neef in an exclusive interview with “Echos Week-End”.
The third room will not be fitted out. Thirty-two years after the opening of the Opéra-Bastille, the space of the famous 850-seat auditorium, dear to Jack Lang and Stéphane Lissner, which was scheduled to open in 2023, will still remain empty. Too expensive (between 60 and 80 million euros according to estimates) and too risky. The space, which plays the large hall of the Opéra-Bastille, continues to house an orchestra rehearsal room and a raw space for fashion shows.
“Before the summer, it was decided to suspend the project. We share the same opinion with the State: this is not the time to do it ”, explains Alexandre Neef. For Stéphane Lissner, who precipitated his departure in 2020 for the San Carlo theater in Naples, following its non-renewal, the development of this modular room in a space of 1,200 m2, seen the logical outcome of the great Bastille project launched under François Mitterrand, as part of the transformation of the building designed by architect Carlos Ott, to adapt it to the XXIe century.
The audit report
With the help of private patrons, it should make it possible to further expand the opera audience by presenting productions by young artists from the Academy with less desirable proposals. In October 2020, the new boss of the Opera had confirmed his attachment to the project of architect Carlos Ott by wishing “to adapt it to the XXIe century “…
But in the context of the crisis of the institution, which received exceptional aid from the State of 81 million euros in 2020 to deal with the pandemic, the new boss of the opera obviously preferred to opt for caution . It is true that in the meantime, the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, has ordered an audit report (unpublished) from two former directors of the opera, Georges-François Hirsch and Christophe Tardieu, who fervently campaigns for a review of the economic model and governance of the institution, faced with the drift of accounts and the increase in the wage bill.
Built in 1989 with the Opéra Bastille, the modular room has never been fitted out. It was also to be part of a vast plan to redeploy opera support activities. Until now, the plan was to build the “city of the theater” to the Berthier workshops and to transfer the support activities of the Opéra Garnier which are there today on the “abandoned grounds” of the Bastille site, while developing the third room by 2023. In this context, “If the theater city project is carried out at the Berthier workshops, a solution will have to be devised to apply to the Bastille site the activities that took place in the Berthier workshops”, notes Alexandre Neef. This first arbitration reflects in any case the will of the new boss of the Paris Opera to break with the expensive era of the past.