The Opera of Vichy Museum

1. The Vichy Opera museum.   2. Exhibition "Camille Saint-Saëns" 2021.   3. Exhibition "Camille Saint-Saëns" 2021.  

Created in 2002 thanks to the Noëlle and Gabriel Peronnet Foundation, the Opera Museum brings together, preserves and showcases the archives of the Théâtre du Grand Casino de Vichy (now Palais des Congrès-Opéra). Posters, photographs, costumes, projects and sets, programs and newspapers tell the story of an exceptional artistic life.

The only theater museum in the province, it is considered by the National Library as one of the richest collections in Europe by the quality, quantity and rarity of the archives it holds. These archives were rather difficult to find, collect and organize from the end of 1987 until the installation of the museum in 2001-2002.


From one scene to another, romantic opera across Europe

Since its appearance in 17th century Italy, opera has become an undeniable object of seduction and one of the most popular artistic genres in the world. Although it would be necessary to qualify the quote from the famous Italian tenor in many respects, it is undeniable that Italy remains in the collective imagination, the country of bel canto where the voice is queen, that French opera has produced among the most beautiful lyrical melodies, while the Germans are recognized as the masters of the orchestra and the symphony.
Italian hegemony and influence on opera was without competition in Europe until the end of the 18th century. The example is particularly striking in England, which favors foreign composers and has not produced any significant national work since the Baroque era of Purcell until Benjamin Britten in the post-Second World War period.
In a 19th century shaken by revolutions and conflicts, the struggle and the search for emancipation of peoples will inevitably lead to the recognition of national identities, which music, and particularly opera, will transcend. The latter will prove to be a perfect instrument of national demand, even a weapon against oppression and then goes beyond its simple status of entertainment originally reserved for the elites of the European courts. To do this, composers will draw their subjects from history or national folklore, address themes of revolt, equality and freedom, and seek a prosody specific to their language. It is enough to cite Verdi’s Nabucco, Wagner’s The Walkyrie, Moussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Smetana’s The Sold Bride or Falla’s La Vie Brief, to recognize in these works, which have now become universal, monuments of Italian lyrical art. , German, Russian, Czech and Spanish, but much more symbols of pride of these nations.This quest for identity is marked at the same time by the emergence of romanticism. Opposing the rationality of the Enlightenment, this movement advocates a return to the expression of emotions and the exaltation of feelings. Abandoning the mythology and heroism favored by the neoclassics, the composers explored the themes of love, exoticism or the fantastic, drawing their inspiration in particular from literary canons (those for example of Byron, Dumas, Goethe, Hoffmann , Hugo, Pushkin, Schiller and even Scott) who are invading Europe.
At the turn of the 20th century, opera would once again shake up established traditions. Enjoying greater creative freedom, authors reveal stories with innovative narration and more complex characters. They also seek to free themselves from conventional tones, a boldness which allows them to explore new aesthetics.
Completing the retrospective on French opera presented last year, the exhibition focuses on other nations which have produced opera, and attempts, thanks to the museum’s collections, a more global approach to this art which has dominated the Musical Europe of the 19th century.

from may 05, 2024 to november 24, 2024

Useful information :

Days and times :
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (closed on public holidays).

Address :
16 rue Maréchal Foch
03200 VICHY
Phone number :
04 70 58 48 20

E-mail address :

Website :

GPS coordinates :
latitude : 46.12246
longitude : 3.42342