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Hidden treasure: the château’s theatre

Nothing on the outside suggests that the outbuildings house a magnificent little theatre decorated with references to Antiquity, which makes it all the more surprising! Visitors can come and discover its delightful First French Empire decoration during a guided tour or the Talleyrand Festival.

The château’s outbuildings are home to a surprising gem: a theatre built in the First French Empire style. Napoleon himself suggested its construction in order to entertain the Spanish royal family during their imprisonment at Valençay. The Emperor’s desire was accomplished, and the theatre was inaugurated on 30 March 1810 with a comic opera in the presence of Princes Ferdinand, Don Carlos and Don Antonio. They were a rather surprised audience, since they had never seen an opera before. Their reaction was probably just what Emperor Napoleon was aiming for, in his desire to show off the wealth and power of the Empire.

The original interior has been untouched and remains today, from the backdrops to the trompe-l’oeil paintings decorating the walls and ceiling, and it has even retained some of its original machinery and ten or so stage sets. It is a small, intimate theatre with only 100 seats and is open during regularly scheduled visits. It is also used for concerts dedicated to music on ancient instruments during the Talleyrand Festival.
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