History of the Theatre

A rich history

First opened in 1954, the Théâtre de Beaulieu is the largest theatre in Switzerland. It was to Lausanne what the Olympia is to Paris: an iconic place where the most striking stars of the second half of the 20th century took to the stage.

Discussions between the City of Lausanne and the Société Coopérative du Comptoir Suisse about creating a performance hall in Beaulieu date back to 1949 – five years before the Théâtre de Beaulieu opened. But the possibility of building a large concert hall in Lausanne had been discussed almost a century before, first by artist circles and local companies.

The designs for this hall were entrusted to the architect Marcel Maillard. It was on 14 October 1952 that the Municipal Council of the City of Lausanne debated whether to grant a contribution to build the theatre, revised at CHF 1,282,000.

It turned out that the final amount was CHF 3.3 million!

The Théâtre de Beaulieu was unanimously considered excellent, from the layout of the hall with 1,844 seats to the stage and equipment; not to mention the acoustics, which perfectly met the needs of the time.

At its opening on 19 November 1954, the Théâtre de Beaulieu was the most beautiful and largest concert hall in Switzerland. That evening, the stage was filled by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the baton of its conductor at the time, Ernest Ansermet, with the participation of pianist Clara Haskil. After the concert, the OSR conductor publicly announced his wholehearted approval for the theatre, highlighting its acoustic quality and elegant proportions.

In January 2016, site owner, the Beaulieu Foundation, joined forces with concert and show organiser Opus One to manage the Théâtre de Beaulieu and open a new chapter of its history. This new momentum, supported by the City of Lausanne, led to a complete renovation of the theatre, as well as new goals for the show programmes. The Théâtre de Beaulieu is home to dance, but also great shows and musicals, not to mention must-see comedy and all forms of music.

But now renovation works are necessary, so that the Théâtre de Beaulieu can be a worthy host to national and international productions, as well as its valued audiences. This new chapter began in July 2019.

Which moments are most memorable from 65 seasons of shows?

In 65 seasons, Théâtre de Beaulieu audiences will have applauded many artists from different worlds: Jacques Brel, Barbara, Jacques Higelin, Michel Jonasz, Johnny Hallyday, as well as Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Véronique Sanson.

Audiences both young and old have come through the theatre doors to admire the young artists of La Paternelle, the future big stars in the Prix de Lausanne, and the confident steps of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne.

Of course, the art of theatre has also thrilled audiences. Belmondo in Cyrano, La Comédie Française, Robert Hossein, Line Renaud, Popeck, Robert Lamoureux… They have all walked the boards of Beaulieu.

And musical theatre is not to be outdone, with Cats, Stomp, Mamma Mia and Les Misérables all headline acts.

Over the years, theatre has coexisted with comedy, musicals, song and dance.

Each of the artists, along with their teams, now share the experience of being part of the first rich chapter in the history of the Théâtre de Beaulieu.

Having lived up to the task for so long, now it’s time for the largest concert hall in Switzerland to get a new lease of life. Renovation work on the theatre began in July 2019. We will work for two years to develop and improve the space, without losing its charm.