Roman Theatre, Orange, France


ORANGE. – Le Théâtre Romain.
Le Théâtre remonte au règne de l’Empereur Adrien, la Façade haute de 36 m. 82 sur une longueuer de 103 m. 15 et 4 mètres d’èpaisseur.
(The Roman Theatre
The Theater dates back to the reign of Emperor Adrian, the facade is 36 m high. 82 over a length of 103 m. 15 and 4 meters thick.)
1920s
Publisher: Levy & Neurdein Reunis, Paris (1920-1932)

Google Street View.

The Roman Theatre of Orange (French: Théâtre antique d’Orange) is a Roman theatre in Orange, Vaucluse, France. It was built early in the 1st century AD. . . . It is one of the best preserved of all Roman theatres, and served the Roman colony of Arausio (or, more specifically, Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio: “the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion”) which was founded in 40 BC. Playing a major role in the life of the citizens, who spent a large part of their free time there, the theatre was seen by the Roman authorities not only as a means of spreading Roman culture to the colonies, but also as a way of distracting them from all political activities.

Mime, pantomime, poetry readings and the “attelana” (a kind of farce rather like the commedia dell’arte) were the dominant forms of entertainment, much of which lasted all day. For the common people, who were fond of spectacular effects, magnificent stage sets became very important, as was the use of stage machinery. The entertainment offered was open to all and free of charge.

As the Western Roman Empire declined during the 4th century, by which time Christianity had become the official religion, the theatre was closed by official edict in AD 391, since the Church opposed what it regarded at the time as uncivilized spectacles. It was probably pillaged by the Visigoths in 412, and like most Roman buildings was certainly stripped of its better stone over the centuries for reuse. It was used as a defensive post in the early Middle Ages, and by the 12th century began to be used by the Church for religious plays. During the 16th-century religious wars, it became a refuge for the townspeople. It has since been restored to its former function, primarily for opera, along side its use as a tourist spot.
Wikipedia.

The exterior façade is divided into three levels. The first comprises three doors which open out onto the stage and secondary doors which open onto the corridors or rooms that do not have access to the interior. On the second level, the wall is bare of any decoration. You can see the stone corbels which supported the roof structure and a deep groove, the remains of the anchoring for the tiles on the roof. A blind arcade on the wall embellishes the third level. With the exception of the central arch and the arches located in line with the basilicae (towers positioned each side of the stage), each has a cavity that lets light in to the passage located inside the wall. At the top, there are two rows of 43 corbels which supported the velum, a large canvas canopy that protected spectators from the sun and the rain.
Roman Theatre & Museum of Orange


ORANGE. – Théâtre Antique | Une répétition générale par les artistes de la Comédie-Française
Publisher: M. F. Beau

The stage is flanked by two towers called basilicae. These towers housed the rooms that served as foyers. During the performances, actors, chariots and scenery were gathered here ready for their entry on stage. The upper level or levels are thought to have been used as stores for the scenery and props. 61 metres wide and 13 metres deep, the stage consists of a floor resting on beams. It had trapdoors set in it enabling actors or machinery to appear as if by magic. An ingenious system of cables, winches and counterweights allowed the actors and working scenery to be hidden from the audience using a curtain that was around 3 metres high.
Roman Theatre & Museum of Orange


ORANGE. – Le Théâtre Romain et la VIlle.
(The Roman Theatre & the City)
1920s
Publisher: Levy & Neurdein Reunis, Paris (1920-1932)

The stage wall was very important as it helped to properly project sound and comprised the only architectural décor in the theatre. During the performance it did not change, but some mobile items and props were installed to create the illusion of movement, space and perspective. Its original height of 37 metres has been entirely preserved. The wall was richly decorated with slabs of multicoloured marble, statues in niches, friezes and columns. In 1931, excavations under the stage enabled the columns currently in place to be restored to their original position. Originally there were 76 of them.

The stage wall is also arranged in three levels. At the centre of the first level is the Royal Door or valva regia. Reserved for the principal actors, it was topped with a frieze decorated with centaurs, the remains of which are on display at the Museum of Orange. This door is surrounded by niches which were adorned with statues. The central niche houses the imperial statue of Augustus measuring 3.55 metres in height. This niche almost certainly contained a representation of Apollo and it is likely that the triumphant emperor was only substituted at a later date. The statue is dressed in a general’s coat, the paludamentum imperatoris, and is holding his staff. It serves as a reminder that to preserve peace throughout the Roman Empire everyone must respect its laws. Narrower, the side doors called “hospitable” doors were used for the actors’ entrances and exits. The second and third levels, comprising columns, are purely decorative.
Roman Theatre & Museum of Orange

Google Street View.


ORANGE. – Le Théâtre Romain.
(The Romain Theatre.)
1920s
Publisher: Levy & Neurdein Reunis, Paris (1920-1932)


ORANGE. – Le Théâtre Antique.
(The Ancient Theatre.)
1910s
Publisher: Neurdein Brothers


ORANGE. – Le Théâtre Antique, les Gradins et le Mont de la Madone
(The Ancient Theatre, the Bleachers and the Mount of the Madonna)
1920s
Publisher: Levy & Neurdein Reunis, Paris (1920-1932)

Capable of accommodating 10,000 spectators, the terraces were carved out of a hillside to make construction easier and render the final building more stable. Divided into three sections, the cavea were accessed by radial staircases. The upper section was crowned with a portico. When it rained or was very hot, a large canvas canopy, the velum, was used to protect the audience. The system was put in place using beams fixed to the corbels at the top of the walls. The velum could therefore either cover the stage or the entire theatre.
Roman Theatre & Museum of Orange

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