Built in 1788, the old theatre in the heart of the city is destroyed by a fire.
The city launches a competition for the construction of a new building for the Opera. The winning design, by architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier, calls for a grand hall in the Italian style (one of the last examples constructed in France).
Neoclassical in inspiration, the building is modelled after the Palais Garnier, but with a different morphology and more modest proportions.
The main construction work is completed by July 1914, at the dawn of the First World War. Just as the building is nearing completion, the Germans take over the Opera and present some hundred performances and concerts in nearly four years of occupation.
After the German occupation and a period of restoration, the “Grand Theatre” – as it is called at the time – gives its “French premier”. Nearly a decade will thus have separated the end of the construction and the official inauguration of the Opera.
The Opera hosts the major lyric and dramatic artists such as Cabanel, José de Trévi, Huberty, Georges Thill and many others. The building itself will witness a few interior alterations, pending the big renovation of 1998.
The aging of certain parts of the Opera and the desire to offer to the public a theatre of the highest technical and aesthetic quality encourage the City of Lille to close the building for major renovations, a project led by the architects Patrice Neirinck and Pierre-Louis Carlier.
The stage is modernized with the latest technologies, making it possible to present all types of performances. New rehearsal spaces are also created on the top floor of the building. With these new facilities, the Lille Opera is optimally positioned for the creation of operatic and dance performances.
The reopening of the Opera is an important event in the launching of Lille 2004 European Capital of Culture.
With a highly colourful premiere season, the New Lille Opera garners a large and enthusiastic audience from throughout the region. For the first season, nearly 25% of subscribers are under 26 years old.
The Lille Opera continues to offer audiences in northern France and Belgium exciting events of lyric creation and repertoire, modern dance and music.