The Municipal Theatre

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History of the Municipal Theatre

The building that many consider to be the golden glory of French architectural achievement and I must admit, my favourite French colonial building. Modelled on Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera in flamboyant Neo-Baroque style, the Opera was designed by Francois Lagisquet and completed in 1911, according to Vietnamese sources — or 1914, if you believe French art historians. In its time, the Municipal Theatre was the only European-style opera house east of Cairo.

Municipal Theatre

The Municipal Theatre

Developing of Municipal Theatre

From afar, the rectangular porticos at two levels of this golden vision are united by tall Ionic columns, behind which is a wide central balcony at the upper level. The roof cornice is joyously festooned with statues of griffons. When I was shown through the building for the first time in.

When I was shown through the Municipal Theatre for the first time in 1997 by the Vietnamese architect in charge of its restoration, Dr.Prof. Hoang Dao Kinh, he was immensely proud that a poor country like Vietnam had found the fourteen million U.S. dollars “to build a temple to the arts for all the people”. Closely following the original plans, but installing air-conditioning and heating, he was determined to remain faithful to the fabric of the original. All of the new materials were to come from Vietnam, the slates from Sin Ho, the clay chimney pots from Nha Trang. Italians had supervised the relaying of the mosaic floor in the foyer and French artists had seen to the ornamental details of its fine Corinthian columns in the red-plush auditorium that holds up to eight hundred.”It may have been designed by a French architect, but it was built

The Municipal Theatre may have been designed by a French architect, but it was built by Vietnamese hands. The Vietnamese are very fine craftsmen.”He led me up the grand central staircase to the

He led me up the grand central staircase to the first-floor foyer and I thought at first that he was pointing to the gracefully curved wooden frames of the Art Deco mirrors, but no, he was pointing to the walls.”There_ were many bullet holes here, many people died, both

“There were many bullet holes here, many people died, both French and Vietnamese.”

Throughout the Indochinese War and later, during the American-Vietnam War, the building was left to decay. Nevertheless, on 19 August 1945, following the surrender of the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh’s Revolutionary Committee rushed to one of the balconies of the Opera, unfurled their banners and declared the establishment of the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam.The elegant mirrored salon is one of the most delightful opera

The elegant mirrored salon is one of the most delightful opera foyers I know, even compared to some of the great opera houses of Europe.To visit the glorious interior of the Opera with its marble

Municipal Theatre

Developing of Municipal Theatre

Visiting the Municipal Theatre

To visit the glorious interior of the Municipal Theatre with its marble staircases, crystal chandeliers and gold paintwork, watch Vietnam News for announcements of orchestra concerts, often featuring high-quality soloists from abroad.With my back to the Opera, I cross the open space to Trang

With my back to the Opera, I cross the open space to Trang Tien. On the corner to the left is the domed building that formerly housed the elegant French department store, Grands Magasins Reunis, the name of each department then set in the mosaic above an arched window. It is now the Hanoi Stock Exchange. I walk a few steps along Trang Tien directly in front of the Opera, then turn and 100k back. This is the most impressive view of the Opera. Trang Tien was the chic shopping street during the French era and it is still lined with art galleries, booksellers and shops selling beautiful lacquer and embroidered table and bed linen. (Stop now if your feet have had it.)Returning to the Opera, I turn south (right) into Ngo Quyen,

Returning to the Opera, I turn south (right) into Ngo Quyen, which has by now metamorphosed into Le Thanh Tong.

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