The Théâtre de Verdure rises from its ashes

The Théâtre de Verdure rises from its ashes

For the first time in eight years, artists will take to the stage this summer at the Théâtre de Verdure, located in the heart of La Fontaine Park in Montreal. The City presented a multidisciplinary summer program on Monday that will span more than two months in a completely renovated facility.

The kick-off will be given on June 29 when the infrastructure, which has 1,700 seats and 800 others on the lawn, will welcome the Ballets jazz de Montréal. Until August 26, more than thirty free shows will be presented in this emblematic Plateau-Mont-Royal venue. Singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the Orchester Métropolitain will be featured.

“It’s a large-scale installation,” notes the head of culture and heritage on the executive committee of the City of Montreal, Ericka Alneus. “An orchestra can perform there, we can present circus, dance. »

Long empty and decrepit, this sector of Parc La Fontaine will be revitalized this summer. “The first impact is that of residents who wanted to have access to outdoor culture,” believes Alneus. It must be said that the citizen response was immediate: all of the 1,700 tickets giving access to a seat during the opening evening flew away “in less than two hours” on Monday, according to Mme Alneus.

The other shows presented during the summer will welcome spectators free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. “The City has a role to ensure the accessibility of culture,” explains Alneus to justify the decision that the programming be free. “The cultural centers, for example, often offer free programming, and everyone benefits from it. It’s a win for our culture, our identity. »

years of talks

The reopening of the theater ends years of uncertainty and negotiations regarding its future. Closed in 2014 due to its deplorable state, the infrastructure has been the subject of numerous rejuvenation attempts that have not succeeded.

As early as 2013, the City had proposed to rebuild the building, but the project had been rejected twice by the Heritage Council, which considered that the project was not sufficiently anchored in the landscape and the history of La Fontaine Park. In 2015, the mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal at the time, Luc Ferrandez, also rejected a reconstruction plan that he considered “too massive”.

In March 2020, just a few days before the start of the pandemic, the City of Montreal finally presented the final plans, designed by the architectural firm Lemay. The reopening of the theater was then planned for the summer of 2021. “We had to take a step back to ensure that the installation fits well into La Fontaine Park”, explains Ericka Alneus. She cites other obstacles, such as “the pandemic, the shortage of labor and the scarcity of equipment at the time” to explain the delays that led to the postponement of the reopening.

This year, no show is scheduled beyond August 26th. “But it’s just the beginning,” enthusiastically launches the head of culture, recalling that she does not yet know what the 2023 and 2024 programs will be made of. One thing is certain: for this emblematic stage inaugurated in 1956 and unused for eight years, this is a new beginning.

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