The facade of the Olympia at night
|Address||28, Boulevard des Capucines, 9th arrondissement|
|Other names||Montagnes Russes (1889–1893)|
Founded in 1888, by Joseph Oller, the creator of the Moulin Rouge, today easily recognizable by its giant red glowing letters announcing its name. It opened in 1889 as the "Montagnes Russes" but was renamed the Olympia in 1893. Besides musicians, the Olympia played host to a variety of entertainment including circuses, ballets, and operettas. However, following a steady decline in appearances by the great stars, from 1929 until 1944 it served as a movie theater. It may have opened as a music hall under the German occupation of France during World War II, but certainly in 1945 after the Liberation, it was a music hall free to Allied troops in uniform. Attendees had to listen to the playing of four national anthems before the varied programs that always ended with a spirited French can-can performed by dancers, some of whom were no longer young. Thereafter, at times it may have reverted to movies again until Bruno Coquatrix revived it as a music hall with a grand re-opening in February 1954. After his death, it ultimately went into another decline and was in danger of being torn down and turned into a parking lot but on 7 January 1993, France's then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang issued a preservation order for the Olympia that resulted in two years of construction work to rebuild a perfect replica of the façade and the grandeur of its famous red interior.
Édith Piaf achieved great acclaim at the Olympia giving several series of recitals from January 1955 until October 1962. Jeff Buckley, long an admirer of Piaf, gave what he considered the finest performance of his career there in 1995, which was later released in 2001 on Live at L'Olympia. Jacques Brel's 1961 and 1964 concerts at L'Olympia are legendary and preserved to this day on new CD releases. Marlene Dietrich's 1962 Olympia concert was broadcast. On May 3–4, 1972, The Grateful Dead played two concerts here as part of their first major European tour. Both shows were recorded and songs from each were released on their 1972 live album "Europe '72". Dave Gahan played concert here and it was released on the 2004 DVD, Live Monsters.
Inaugurated by the biggest star in France at the time, singer/dancer La Goulue, the venue has showcased a wide variety of performers, including French acts such as Dalida, Mustafa Sandal, Ajda Pekkan, Alan Stivell, Nolwenn Leroy, Édith Piaf, Léo Ferré, Charles Aznavour, Chimène Badi, Adamo, Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Barbara, Véronique Sanson, Charles Trenet, Yvonne Printemps and the singer Alizée in a concert in 2004.
International stars have included Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Björk, Abdel Halim Hafez, Lara Fabian, Amália Rodrigues, Josephine Baker, Celine Dion, Cher, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Nelly Furtado, Evanescence, Arctic Monkeys among many others.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (December 2009)|
- Jean-Michel Boris, Jean-François Brieu, Eric Didi: Olympia Bruno Coquatrix, 50 ans de Music-Hall, 2003, Editions Hors Collection, ISBN 2-258-06234-9
- Paulette Coquatrix: Mes noces d'or avec l'Olympia, Bordeaux, Le Castor Astral
- Jeanne Tallon: J’étais ouvreuse à l'Olympia, 2004, Paris, Editions Fayard, ISBN 2-213-61839-9
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