When the Ferris wheel lifts visitors over the rooftops of the French trading town, a vaulted half cylinder catches the eye amidst the sea of buildings – the Lyon Opera House. This is the work of architect Jean Nouvel, who placed a steel and glass barrel vault atop the old opera house's classicist facade. His intentional unification of contrasts explores the intersection between tradition and innovation. It is culture as refracted through the zeitgeist – modern opera.
The film describes how the opera house, which enjoys international acclaim as a work of architecture, has undergone an artistic transformation into one of Europe's leading stages – and how it has won over the city's inhabitants with its repertoire. A crucial success factor in this cultural balancing act has been the opera's collaboration with other houses. The initiators aimed to create a center of music and the performing arts with young singers working under directors and conductors such as Peter Stein and William Christie.
Our film also touches upon what French audiences, in particular, consider most sacred: ballet. A ballet hall – possibly the most beautiful in the world – is located in the crest of the glass semi-cylinder, which makes use of the formal vocabulary of the Hotel de Ville. With a panoramic view of the historic town center, the troupe of 30 ballet dancers rehearses for the four productions that they will present to the public.
Behind the scenes at the Zürich Opera House