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23 June 2014

L'Olympia: the rebirth of the mythical parisian concert hall

L’Olympia: the rebirth of the mythical parisian concert hall

By Laurence Gounel

With more than 300 shows every year, 2000 seats and 14000m2 over three levels, the Olympia plays its cards close to its chest in the heart of the Madeleine quarter. “The theatre only makes up a tenth of the total surface area”, reveals the Olympia’s director, Arnaud Delbarre.

It is one of the most mythical concert halls in the world and has witnessed performances by the cream of the crop of French and international artists alike since it was a hustling bustling music hall in 1954. Its legendary owners, Bruno and Paulette Coquatrix, leant a helping hand to their daughter, Patricia, in 1978, and her success since then has been unfailing. While this hall may look like a pocket-handkerchief in comparison to the Stade de France, nothing can shake its prestige in the eyes of the public and artists. It is as if the Olympia weaves an invisible and intimate thread, linking performers and their audience.

 
To the point that in 2001, Universal Music didn’t waste a moment in offering its services to this piece of history. From that moment, the musical major is still doing renovations in the public area.
And this year, it’s the dressings rooms’ turn with the idea to wrap the artist in a protective cocoon, by escaping the starched clichés of heavy cloth and theatrical red. The result is refreshingly contemporary and resembles a hotel suite more than a dressing room – by any traditional standards. Taupe velvet, ebony furniture, orange lacquer – a nod to the Bar Marilyn – and above all, calligraphy by Pierre Bonnefille, student at the Ecole Boulle.

  • The work of an artist

    This year, Arnaud Delbarre aspired to offer a new level of comfort to artists by renovating the dressing rooms. Having fallen into disrepair due to ad hoc parties, it is the Studio Maow that recruits artistic master, Pierre Bonnefille, to redecorate the three main dressing rooms, followed by those of the crew. Far from the purely practical demands that typically dictate the surroundings of artists’ dressing rooms, Pierre Bonnefille has redecorated those of the Olympia with boards, to which he applied lava stone powder. A special technique that allows an artist to carve by hand any song lyrics that pop into their head.

  • Chez Laurette

    Named thus as homage to the daughter of Michel Fugain who came to watch her father sing one last time, before she passed away after a battle with leukemia. The largest of all, that of the artist…who here receives their entourage before or after a performance. Franck Adamo is the first to recognise the song lyrics engraved upon these walls. Since then, everyone tries to identify a couplet, a chorus…

  • The Second Dressing Room

    This belongs to the producer, although it often serves as a massage or workout room. The dressing rooms can be stretched to accommodate the desires of the individual.

  • Le Bar Marylin

    This is the only concert bar in the world that dares to ask artists to regulate their drinking! And this rule has lasted for 50 years…all in good humour. Everyone plays the game!
    It was fully renovated in 1997 as an identical replica of the original. “So that the Stones can find it whilst they are still famous” explained Arnaud Delbarre.

  • The Billiards Room

    Signed Edouard VII like most of the surrounding quarter, this room, which is unknown to many – including artists – was Bruno Coquatrix’s official study where he held castings, with Eddie Barclay and Lucien Maurice (boss of Europe 1). It is here that Dalida and many others spent their first auditions, before recording 45 records the next day and appearing on radio airwaves in the following days…Their careers were launched; and at least they didn’t get their lucky break on The Voice.
    Today, this legendary hall is used for ultra exclusive cocktail parties, the signing of important contracts or private concerts. Sting loves to compose here, surrounded by a handful of close pals.

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