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Backstage artists

In 2005 a “selective procedure of parallel studies” was commissioned to various architectural and engineering practices, with the intent of rebuilding the entire stage house, creating a new rehearsal room and combining offices and technical facilities. The jury selected a proposal called “On stage, in the city”, submitted by Geneva-based company dl-a / Lamunière-Devanthéry. It proposed a very rational use of indoor space, with finely calibrated structures in proportion to neighbouring buildings, and stainless steel siding panels.

In April 2007 the Lausanne opera house closed its doors because of the poor condition of its technical facilities and the fire hazard it presented. Following the opposition of a local organisation and a few neighbours, the main structure had to be resized and the height of the stage house slightly decreased, delaying the initial timeline by nearly two years. After the opera closed and throughout the renovation period, which finally got underway in mid-2010, performances continued at the Beaulieu Theater and the Bel-Air-Métropole Hall, as well as in the itinerant productions of the Lyrical Road.

The film looks back at the key moments of the renovation project, such as the demolition of the Beau-Séjour building, the construction of new structures and the installation of new technical stage equipment. It also features one of the architects, one of the engineers, the set designer and several craftsmen involved in this unique building.

In addition, the director showcases the different trades which make up the opera world and the effect that this new space and equipment will have on carpenters, painters, lighting designers, machinists, dressers, etc. He takes us on a backstage tour of the rehearsals of Opéra de Lausanne productions Roméo et Juliette and La grande duchesse de Gerolstein, and of an open-air performance of Monsieur Choufleuri restera chez lui le... in Mon Repos park. The director of the opera, artists, musicians and others provide first-hand accounts.

The director recounts this recognition with passion, discretion and empathy, in order to make known what is at stake on an architectural and technical level with the building of this colossal structure containing almost no windows, as well as what it takes to prepare and produce an opera. The film pays tribute to the “backstage artists” without whom none of this would really be possible.

A bonus section features numerous photos that document the project.


Les artistes de l'ombre
Film directed by Bertrand Nobs, 2014
Production: City of Lausanne - Department of Public Works - Department of Culture
Duration: 68 minutes

On sale at the box office at the Opéra de Lausanne CHF 15. -.