Restoration of theatre in France to resume with Abu Dhabi’s contribution

19th century theatre renamed after Shaikh Khalifa enters its final phase of restoration

Image Credit: Supplied
An artist’s impression of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre after the restoration.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The final phase of restoration works on Château de Fontainebleau’s Imperial Theatre in France, which has been renamed Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre, will be launched in June after the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) contributed the second instalment of funds for the restoration work.

As part of the agreement between the Government of Abu Dhabi and France in 2007, part of which concerned the Louvre Abu Dhabi project, the contribution allows for the restoration of the theatre thanks to the generosity of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The first phase was completed in April 2014 and saw the renovation of the main auditorium with 25 specialists and 135 craftsmen working on site, reviving the theatre’s original décor.

The second phase of renovation will begin in June with the focus turning to certain machinery, the upper levels of the salons and the podium upon which one of the most important stage sets in France has been preserved. In spring 2019, the public will be able to experience this Second Empire architectural masterpiece in its entirety. The theatre was exquisitely designed by Hector Lefuel for the Imperial family between 1853 and 1856, and was used by Napoléon III on no more than a dozen occasions, before its doors were closed for over a century, thus preserving it in its original state. The chateau is also home to the Ecoles d’Art Americaines, a school of art, architecture, and music.

Following these restoration works, the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre will represent a museographic space dedicated to the performing arts and decorative arts of the Second Empire.

Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi, said, “The protection of cultural heritage anywhere is of the upmost importance to ensure that the history of our societies and civilisations is passed onto future generations. It is through our common commitments to this cause that we have been able to make great strides in our cultural cooperation with France. The renovation of the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents our nation’s dedication to the preservation of this heritage, not just within our own region, but internationally as we strive towards a global community united by culture.”

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