arts

Historic theater comes back to life in France's 'Home of kings'

Updated 17th November 2017
Historic theater comes back to life in France's 'Home of kings'
Just over 30 miles south-east of Paris lies one of France's symbols of national pride, home to 34 kings over a period spanning eight centuries.
It's the Chateau de Fontainebleau, a massive structure comprising 1,500 rooms and surrounded by 130 acres of parkland and gardens: "the true home of kings, the house of ages," as Napoleon I described it in 1816.
The earliest records of a fortified castle in the area date back to 1137 AD. Today, the complex is a national museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is home to countless artworks and a very special 400-seat theater, opened for Napoleon III in 1857: "This theater is first of all a conservatory, an extremely valuable testimony to all decorative arts and to court art of the second Empire in France," curator Vincent Cochet told CNN's Becky Anderson.
© Adrien Didierjean, RMN-GP Château de Fontainebleau
Today, the theater is named not after Napoleon III, but a different patron of the arts some 3,000 miles away: Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi has financed the restoration of the theater, which had been left abandoned for over a century. It is part of a broader agreement between France and the UAE, which includes the famed Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.
The theater's first phase of restoration was completed in 2014, while a second phase will terminate in 2019 with the opening of the structure to the public.
Watch the video above to find out more about the theater's restoration
This story forms part of an extended series exploring the new Louvre Abu Dhabi.