Salle Pleyel is an Art Deco concert hall that was originally built in 1927 by the Pleyel piano company. For decades it was a leading classical music venue in Paris, even though the acoustics and appearance of the building suffered from a series of botched renovation projects over the years.
Finally, in 2004, the hall was closed for two years, and “a major architectural and acoustic renovation program” was carried out. At the same time, new seating was installed and the number of seats was reduced to 1,913 (instead of the original 3,000) so as to provide more comfort and leg-room for the audience. The hall was reopened in September 2006.
For the next eight years, Salle Pleyel was again an important venue for classical orchestral music, with both the Orchestre de Paris and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in residence.
But in 2015 the controversial new concert hall Philharmonie de Paris was finally opened in the Parc La Villette in the northeast corner of Paris. This meant that Salle Pleyel lost most of its classical music programming. Both the big resident orchestras left Salle Pleyel and moved out to the Philharmonie.
Currently (as of 2022) Salle Pleyel offers a wide variety of music performances in the categories of “World music, Electro, Variety, Dance, Composer-and-orchestra, Pop, Rock, Folk, R’n’b, Soul, Hip-Hop, Metal, Hard Rock, Blues, Jazz and Humor” — in other words just about everything except opera and classical music.
It turns out that both Salle Pleyel and the Philharmonie are now owned and run by the Cité de la Musique, which decides on the programming for both venues.
The address of Salle Pleyel is 252 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. This is about halfway between the Arch of Triumph and Parc Monceau. It is near Avenue Hoche, one of the twelve avenues that radiate out in all directions from the Arch. (Avenue Hoche is the one that radiates out to the northeast.)
In 2007, my younger son and I went to the Salle Pleyel and both managed to get last-minute tickets at 10 Euros each (he being under 27 and I being over 60) for a concert performance of the opera Tancredi, by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), with René Jacobs conducting the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.
This was my second Tancredi, coming ten years after a concert performance I saw in Frankfurt in 1997, conducted by Eve Queler. (I still haven’t seen a staged performance of Tancredi, but that’s not surprising, since it is seldom staged nowadays.)
Rossini is now known primarily for his comic operas, such as The Barber of Seville and The Italian Girl in Algiers. But he also composed serious, dramatic operas such as Tancredi, which was a great success when it debuted in 1813 in Venice.
Because of the name, I always assumed that Rossini’s 19th century opera Tancredi, like numerous older operas from the 17th and 18th centuries, was based on the epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem delivered) by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso. But it turns out that only the name is from there. The storyline is based on the play Tancrède by Voltaire, first performed in 1760.
The rotunda in the upper lobby of Salle Pleyel was part of the original building, but was destroyed during renovation work in the 1960s. It has since been re-created from the original plans.
My photos in this post are from 2007. I revised the text in 2022.