Last Thursday, members of the American International Women’s Club had the opportunity to peek behind the scenes at one of Geneva’s premier concert venues: the Grand Théâtre de Genève, located at Place de Neuve.
The original Grand Théâtre building dates to 1879; a fire devastated its interiors in 1951, necessitating the redesign and rebuilding of most of the theater’s interiors between 1951 and 1961. However, the upper foyers of the theater remain intact, and the grand rooms gave us an idea of the appearance of the 1879 theater interiors – rich with gold, mirrors, and artwork.
After seeing the older part of the theater, our group proceeded into the main concert hall. The restoration in the hall dates to 1961. The walls are covered in rosewood paneling and the hall seats 1,500 people. The stage is covered by a safety/fire curtain when not in use and during recitals. The curtain, which also has a decorative purpose, is the work of Swiss-Polish artist Jacek Stryjenski. The hall’s ceiling is meant to mimic the galaxy and the lights twinkle through Murano glass.
With our tour of the public areas of the Grand Théâtre complete, our group headed backstage. We toured the wings of the stage and marveled at the soaring backdrop for the ongoing production of La Wally.
Then it was time to descend below the main stage and see the innermost workings of the theater. We took an elevator (Geneva’s largest, according to our guide) to 13 meters below stage level, and there we saw the twelve hydraulic hoists that raise and lower the six parts of the central stage.
Finally, we took a peek into one of the studio spaces where cast members of La Wally were rehearsing before heading back to the lobby of the Grand Théâtre to conclude the afternoon. Thank you to our guide, Christopher, and everyone at the Grand Théâtre for such a memorable tour!
For more information about the Grand Théâtre, please visit http://geneveopera.com.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/