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© Cosimo Mirco Magliocca / Coll Comédie-Française

Natixis is supporting the Comédie-Française’s project to refurbish the Richelieu auditorium, both acoustically and aesthetically. When completed, the work will considerably improve the quality of sound for spectators and allow them to better appreciate the actors’ artistic performances.

Renovation of the Richelieu auditorium

In 2012, Comédie-Française is taking advantage of the theater being closed in order to bring its technical equipment up to code and make it accessible to refurbish the Richelieu auditorium both acoustically and aesthetically.

The Richelieu auditorium was built from 1786 and 1790 by the architect Victor Louis. Over time, it has gone through several series of renovations to improve comfort, to stay attuned with technical advances and for modernization purposes. Carpeting, velvet, damask and taffeta, ventilation systems… all significantly affected the acoustics of the auditorium.

The purpose of the renovation is to improve the acoustics of the auditorium and create a decor that is more vivid and less opulent, in reference to earlier architecture and decor.

This major renovation is financed entirely by private sponsors, such as Natixis, Caisse d’Epargne Ile-de-France and Fondation du Patrimoine through the sponsorship of Fondation Total and is expected to take 6 months. Mandated to the department in charge of buildings and equipment of the Comédie-Française, the renovation will be carried out by the senior architect of France’s historic monuments.

The Richelieu auditorium is expected to reopen in early 2013.

Technical and acoustic challenge

Readjusting the balance between absorbing materials (carpets, doors, etc.) and reverberating materials (ceilings, gilding, etc.) will considerably improve the room’s acoustics. The acoustic aspect of the renovation will increase the size of the reverberating surfaces in line with the architectural aspect of the renovation. It will help the actors – who will no longer need to strain their voices - and improve the quality of sound for spectators.

A noble material often present in theaters, timber will be used for floors and on vertical surfaces, either in its natural color or painted. The use of timber is necessary to improve the acoustics. The work will also favor the use of white, gold and red, the three colors predominantly used from the end of the 18th century until the 1930s.