The opera I saw in 2006 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées was Mozart's Don Giovanni. It was a festival of voices with world-class singers including Lucio Gallo and Anna Bonitatibus, both of who have given gala performances in Frankfurt, and Patricia Ciofi, whom I had seen on television but never live.
The setting in this production was a somewhat seedy little seaside town in present-day Spain or Italy, with Don Giovanni as a somewhat pimpish local potentate. What really impressed me was the ending, in which stage director Andre Engel managed to combine the last two scenes (I've never seen that done before). And after all these many years (this opera is 219 years old, after all) he even came up with a surprise ending.
Shall I tell you what it is? After the final jubilation chorus about how he got what was coming to him, Don Giovanni emerged unscathed from the flames, dusted off his dapper three-piece suit and stood there with a triumphant smirk on his face as the curtain fell.
Update: In May 2013 I saw the same opera in the same theater -- but in a different production with a different cast. Musically it was again first-rate and the audience was very enthusiastic. Prolonged rhythmic clapping at the final bows. A great thing for me was that two old friends from Frankfurt were in the cast this time: Miah Persson as Donna Elvira and Daniel Behle as Don Ottavio.
Second and third photos: The audience in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 2006.
Fourth photo: People in the lobby of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 2013.
Fifth photo: In the auditorium, 2013.
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 2012
This has got to be the most fantastic street in the world. There is so much to see here at any time of the day or night. The last time I was on the Champs Elysses, there was an exhibition tracing the history of Vogue magazine and all of the front covers of Vogue were displayed up and down the thoroughfare. I could have spent many hours studying them all. I had the gypsy gold ring scam tried out on me too but for once in my life I was quick thinking enough to recognise that I was being targeted immediately. I had seen so much written about it on VT, I would have been extremely slow and incredibly stupid not to have picked up on it. I was so proud of myself.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is easily one of the most famous avenues in the world.
Surprisingly, it is not nearly as long as one might think. It is actually only 1.9 km long, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle (Etoile.) The avenue ends at the Arc de Triumphe.
Take your time and just stroll down the avenue. Make sure you have money in your pockets. There is lots of expensive shopping to be done, great cafes and restaurants.
In one word I can tell you what's wrong with the Avenue des Champs-Élysées: cars.
This street is marketed as "the most beautiful avenue in the world", and it really is beautiful except for the fact that there is an ugly ten-lane highway running right down the middle. There are four lanes of moving motor traffic in each direction (moving or creeping, as the case may be, or accelerating wildly when the traffic lights change), plus two lanes of parked cars on either side.
If I have measured correctly, the entire avenue is about 67 meters wide. Of that width, roughly 25 meters in the middle is devoted to motor vehicles, with a 21-meter sidewalk for pedestrians on each side. There are no bicycle lanes, at least not yet (as of 2011), but the council has promised to install bicycle lanes in both directions by 2014.
While the current situation is unsatisfactory, to say the least, I keep reminding myself that for over half a century, from the late 1930s to the early 1990s, it was worse -- much worse, since nearly the entire width of the avenue was given over to cars.
By the 1970s, even car-loving conservative politicians couldn't help noticing that the character of the Champs-Élysées was changing. The grand hotels, luxury boutiques and elegant restaurants began to leave, being replaced by chain stores and fast-food joints.
So from 1991 to 1994 a sweeping rearrangement of the Champs-Élysées was carried out under the direction of the French architect and urbanist Bernard Huet (1932-2001).
Much of the construction work was coordinated by the engineering firm OGI (Omnium Général d'Ingénierie), which summarized the project as follows:
"The rearrangement of the Champs Élysées consisted of restoring the character of a promenade to an avenue which had become an immense open-air parking lot. To do this, the side roads were eliminated, a second row of trees was planted and the entire surface of the pedestrian area was re-paved in granite." (My translation.)
Planting a second row of trees may not sound like a huge project, especially since it was just a matter of replacing a row of trees that had been cut down in the 1930s to make room for cars, but in fact this turned out to be a long and very expensive project because in the meantime the dirt under the sidewalk had been replaced by a labyrinth of cables, water pipes, gas pipes, sewer pipes and tunnels, all of which had to be found and relocated.
Second photo: As you stroll along these wide granite-paved sidewalks today, it is hard to believe that for over half a century most of this surface was used for car parking. But it was.
There are about a dozen Vélib' stations on side streets near the Champs-Élysées, but none on the avenue itself. The ones I have used most recently are stations 8028 at 1 Rue Arsene Houssaye and 8003 at 63 Rue Galilée.
Is the Avenue des Champs-Elysees the most famoust street in the World or just in Paris.... ? Which is it?
This impressive Avenue, built in the 17th century, stretches from the Place la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arc de Triomphe. The Hop on/off Bus is taking us along the Avenue and we are looking at the majestic buildings lining the avenue, the luxury gardens with fountains, the roadside neatly trimmed trees and grand buildings including the Grand and Petit Palais.
Tourist's like me, are going to the theater, shopping, going to a restaurant or just window shopping infront of Chanel, Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, and others. It's a busy street, full of both cars and pedestrians.
This is where major celebrations are held, like New Years Eve, the 14th of July military parade as well as the arrival of the Tour de France cycling race in July.
It was at stop 7, on the avenue we alighted from the Hop on/off tour bus, quite near to the Arc de Triomphe.
In June 2012 I went back to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on Avenue Montaigne, this time to attend a benefit concert with the Ensemble Matheus, conducted by Jean-Christophe Spinosi, featuring six prominent singers who often perform in French opera houses.
The ladies in my first photo are, from left to right, the mezzo-sopranos Stephanie d’Oustrac and Karine Deshayes and the soprano Cassandre Berthon.
Actually my main reason for going to this particular concert was to hear Cassandre Berthon, with whom I was slightly acquainted when she sang in Frankfurt am Main in the 1990s.
Fourth photo: Here all six singers are taking their bows at the end of the concert. The three men are the baritone Ludovic Tézier, whom I once saw in Brussels in the title role of Massenet’s Werther, baritone Nigel Smith and bass Nicolas Cavallier.
Next review from June 2012: Paris still has a huge car problem
Tradition, elegance, sophistication are words that merge in this famous avenue.
It keeps its classical image, but here and there a few dots of modernity are useful to remember that time doesn't stop.
It's funny to compare the actual look with the memories of several decades ago!
This theater is not on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, but is several blocks from there near the Place de l'Alma on the right bank of the Seine. This is a very swanky district of Paris, in fact the whole neighborhood reeks of money.
Of all the opera venues I went to this was the one with the highest percentage of men wearing suits and ties, maybe 35 or 40 percent. These looked to be high-powered business types who had come directly from their air-conditioned offices in their air-conditioned chauffer-driven automobiles. But the theater itself was not adequately air-conditioned, so it was amusing to watch some of these chaps (not all) finally give in and start taking off their jackets and loosening their ties.
The theater is unusual in that it is barely a century old, having been built in 1913. It is said to be one of the few major examples of Art Nouveau in Paris. The stage is small and has little in the way of fancy machinery, so to change sets that have to lower the curtain and play a scene or two in front of it while armies (evidently) of stage hands change everything around by muscle-power, not without all the old-timey thumping and thudding sounds that you don't hear any longer in modernized theaters where everything is done by hydraulics or electricity.
Second photo: Looking up at the façade.
Third photo: Looking southwest along the Avenue Montaigne past the entrance to the theater.
Fourth photo: Stage entrance.
Fifth photo: Opps, there's only one man wearing a suit and tie in this photo. So you'll have to take my word for it that there were more inside.
the avenue des Champs Elysées, indeed the most beautiful avenue in the world. All you need is here, shopping and eateries, plus sights along and on the edge like the GRand and petit palais,pl de la concorde it begins to the arc the triomphe.
Glorious Paris and the world seems to agree. At least once you should walk the entire avenue, and see the beauty of it in the webpage officially made to showcase its many things to do.
Cheers up Paris
The Champs-Elyesse is a wide avenue lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. The formal gardens which line the avenue were laid out by Jacques Hittorf in 1838. These gardens were very popular in the 19th century with fashionable people like Marcel Proust who would sit amongst the flowerbeds and fountains
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