Theatre history

A rich history

Opened in 1954, Beaulieu Theatre is the largest theatre in Switzerland. It is to Lausanne what the Olympia is to Paris:  an iconic venue, where, one after another, the most notable stars of the second half of the 20th century have appeared on its stage.

In 1949 the Municipal Authority for the City of Lausanne and the Société coopérative du Comptoir suisse entered into key discussions on the creation of a theatre in Beaulieu. The theatre opened five years later, as a result of these discussions. However, discussions started more than a century before that, on the initiative of artistic circles and local firms!

At that time the architect, Marcel Maillard was given responsibility for the creation of the theatre. On 14 October 1952 the Lausanne City Council debated the award of a donation of CHF 1,282,000 for the construction of this theatre.

The final amount would be CHF 3.3 million!

From the outset the interior organisation and layout of the Beaulieu Theatre, with its 1,844 seats, its stage and its facilities, were considered excellent, as were the acoustics, which perfectly met the needs identified at the time.

The theatre, at the time considered the finest, most spacious performance venue in Switzerland, was opened on 19 November 1954. On that evening the stage was taken by the Orchestre de la Suisse romande, under the baton of its leader, Ernest Ansermet, supported by the pianist, Clara Haskil. At the end of the concert the principal conductor of the OSR even gave his unreserved public approval of this theatre, praising its acoustic qualities and the elegance of its proportions.

In January 2016, the Fondation de Beaulieu, the owner of the site, and Opus One, the organiser of concerts and shows, joined forces in the management of the Beaulieu Theatre, so opening a new chapter in its history. This new impetus, supported by the City of Lausanne, is reflected in a complete renovation of the building, as well as by new objectives in the programming. Beaulieu Theatre sees itself not only as the home of dance, but also of major shows and musical comedies, together with unmissable humour and music of all kinds.

However, renovation work was required to allow the theatre to host national and international productions, and to accommodate audiences in the Beaulieu Theatre in a manner worthy of the theatre. This new chapter opened in July 2019.

70 show seasons

In 70 seasons, the Beaulieu Theatre audiences have applauded a large number of artistes of various kinds: Jacques Brel, Barbara, Jacques Higelin, Michel Jonasz, Johnny Hallyday, as well as Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Véronique Sanson… The great and the small take turns in admiring the young artistes of La Paternelle, the future great stars of the Prix de Lausanne, or the confident steps of the dancers of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne.

The art of drama is obviously not omitted with Belmondo in Cyrano, the Comédie-Française, Robert Hossein, Line Renaud, Popeck, Robert Lamoureux… They have all trodden the boards at Beaulieu. As regards musical comedies, Cats, Stomp, Mamma Mia, Les Misérables and so many others have had top billing.

In this way, drama, humour, musical comedies, song and dance have learned to live together. All these artistes and all their teams have shared the experience of being part of the first, long page of the Beaulieu Theatre.

After years of good and loyal service it was time for the great performance venue to be granted a second youth. In July 2019, the renovation work on the theatre began. For two years we would be busy changing and improving this hall, without, however, sacrificing its charm.