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Unusual: the Belle Epoque theatre of the Château of Brissac

It’s hard to tell from the outside that the Giant of the Loire Valley’s thick walls conceal a magnificent Belle Epoque theatre, a purple-decorated masterpiece built by Jeanne Say, Marquise of Brissac, who was prepared to do anything to pursue her passion for opera.

The Marquise of Brissac, born Jeanne Say, had the extravagant idea of building a two-storey theatre in the Belle Epoque style within the château itself. She harboured a passion for opera and was a talented singer, but her title and standing prevented her from performing in public. She would have moved heaven and earth to have her way, and so she built her own private stage here where she could perform.
The 200-seat theatre was inaugurated in 1890, and every year the Marquise held an illustrious festival called “The Château of Brissac Autumn Series”. She sang pieces by Wagner, Gounod, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Donizetti and Offenbach accompanied by music-loving friends. There is even a small fake-marble painted stage in the dining room of the château for musicians to play while she ate dinner. After her death, the theatre was sadly neglected and fell into ruin, but was later restored to its former splendour in the late 20th century. The venue’s glistening chandelier, gold decor and red hangings give it an intimate atmosphere, and several of the Marquise’s costumes are exhibited here. The theatre’s Belle Epoque style adds to the panoply of styles that gives the château its unique charm.
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