Théâtre L'heure Bleu
and Salle de Musique
From: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
ABOVE: The Salle de Musique and the Théâtre
L'heure Bleu (red building) share a lobby and box office. INSET BELOW:
The restored theatre auditorium, the stage of the Salle de Musique, and
flip-down seats along the aisles..
before Art Nouveau and Le Corbusier changed the face of La Chaux-de-Fonds, the
city's "Théâtre à l'Italienne" was entertaining
audiences with plays and operas. The city's official walking guide, La
Chaux-de-Fonds on Foot, explains:
"Classified as a historical monument
of national importance, the theatre was built in 1836-1837 (meaning a dozen
years before the first hospital!) and entirely restored in 2003. The music
hall and its décors in Louis XV style, notably the symbolic 'Comédie' masks,
make it a rare gem. With that of Bellinzona, it is the only 'Italian-style'
theatre in Switzerland."
The theatre's auditorium is a miniature La Scala: It seats 531
guests on the main floor and in three curving balconies. A lavish chandelier
hangs from the elaborately decorated ceiling, which still has the original
artwork. (The auditorium has been restored to the way it looked in 1878; the
only visibly modern touch is the electric lighting.)
door, the Salle de Musique is an attractive wood-paneled symphony hall
from the 1950s with an impressive organ behind the stage. The acoustics are said
to be excellent, and I was able to hear a tour guide speaking near the front of
the hall while I took photos from the back.
Visiting L'heure bleu
The local tourist office will arrange guided visits for groups,
who can choose between a 60-minute visit and a 2½-hour
city tour that includes the theatre and music hall. To inquire about individual
visits, e-mail [email protected] And if worse
comes to worse, you can always stop by the box office and beg to peek into the
auditorium. For more photos and contact information, visit