Wednesday 23 October 2019

Abu Dhabi plays key role in historic French theatre revamp

PARIS, June 24, 2019

The Château de Fontainebleau’s historic Imperial Theatre has reopened to the public, following years of restoration works made possible by contributions from the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DTC Abu Dhabi).

In recognition of Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the restoration, the theatre has been renamed as the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre.

A masterpiece of French Second Empire architecture, the theatre was exquisitely designed by Hector Lefuel for the Imperial family between 1853 and 1856.

It 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. Today, following the extensive restoration works, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents a museographic space dedicated to the performing arts and decorative arts of the Second Empire.

The restoration efforts come as part of the historic agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France in 2007.

The longstanding cultural co-operation between the two countries has also included the Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage, and the establishment of the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH).

The contributions allowed for the full restoration of the historic Imperial Theatre, in a further demonstration of the commitment to heritage preservation of President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Phase One of the restoration was completed in April 2014 and saw the rejuvenation of the main auditorium, with 25 specialists and 135 craftsmen working on site to revive the theatre’s original décor.

Phase Two began in June 2017 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.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the reopening of Château de Fontainebleau’s historic Imperial Theatre, and its being named after Sheikh Khalifa, is a true embodiment of the strong ties between cultural institutions in their efforts to preserve national heritage sites.

"These efforts are lesson we have carried forward from the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," stated Sheikh Abdullah, adding they also represent the UAE's diplomatic efforts with over 187 countries to ensure an integrated and promising future for all.

"Today represents the strong ties between the UAE and France in the cultural preservation sector, which dates back to 2007, when the duo signed an agreement, and has since then seen the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017 on Saadiyat Island's Cultural District," he added.

The Château de Fontainebleau, is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Sheikh Abdullah continued, noting that the historic palace served as a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III.

"And while the Palace grounds are of historic significance, its is the lessons and human values created on these grounds that are of vital importance, whether through the arts, literature, philosophy and poetry, it is vital for us to carry forward these human links, and learn from them, especially during times of war, terrorism and extremism."

DCT Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak said: "We are committed to the protection and promotion of cultural heritage around the world, due to the rich, universal value it brings not only to local communities but to the global community as a whole."

"The reopening of this historical theatre further underscores the influential role played by the UAE in stimulating joint collaborations that result in positive, tangible change," he noted.

"The renovation of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents our commitment to heritage preservation, and our strong belief that culture unites us all as a catalyst for tolerance and understanding," he added.-TradeArabia News Service


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