It is a magical place because of its location, its history and the holding of unforgettable concerts. Leaning against the Fourvière hill in Lyon, with a breathtaking view of the city, the ancient theater of Lugdunum has been brought back to life every summer to the rhythm of music and live performance since 1946.
In seventy-five years, the artistic week of Fourvière has given way to the Lyon-Charbonnières Games, then to the Lyon Festival and, since 1994, to the Nuits de Fourvière. This famous summer meeting can say thank you to Edouard Herriot. Without the will of this former mayor of Lyon to initiate excavations in 1933 on the site of the then buried ancient theater, the artists and the public would never have taken their place in this fabulous historic stone setting. A book published in 2016 by La Taillanderie editions, Fourvière, a story, retraces the epic of this place.
From now on, more than one hundred thousand spectators flock each year in June and July to this multidisciplinary festival devoted to the performing arts, which has the pleasure of being held in the open air. I was 20 the first time I sat in the stands of the grand theater (4,400 seats). It was July 1986, a compact crowd was waiting, facing the city lights, for Renaud’s arrival. “The wild chetron” (the wild face) was back, and it was the enthusiasm of the fans.
On stage, a maritime decor, nets, boxes, a small fisherman’s house and, in the background, a cargo ship in the name of Karaboudjan, well known to Tintin readers. Dressed in overalls, his neck surrounded by a red bandana, the singer treats a conquered audience for two hours. It was the time of the album Winner Mistral (Little bitch, Death the children, If you’re my friend, Miss Maggie, Three sailors, etc.), all the ancient theater sang with Renaud, happy to rediscover its mixture of anger and tenderness, humor and banter. The night was soft and of a unique conviviality.
Later, in 1994, the first edition of the Nuits de Fourvière program Stephan Eicher. I find the same enthusiasm of the public, this same proximity to the artist offered by the configuration of the place. Coat of glory, Ups and downs, No remorse or regret, the beautiful album Carcassonne by the Swiss artist enchants the night in Lyon and ends, as a token of thanks for the spectators, with the traditional throw of cushions.
And how can we forget Véronique Sanson’s concert in July 2015! In front of an audience of enthusiasts – of which I am – the singer takes the stage on Vancouver, interpreted a cappella, and invites us to follow it. “I am leading you into my American years”, she proclaims all dressed in black, leather pants, studded ankle boots, fringed waistcoat. Bernard’s Song, Le Maudit, Need for someone, Funny life, the hits are linked and send me back to my youth and to the 33-rpm records of this artist that I listened to repeatedly in my teenage bedroom. The emotion in the audience is palpable, and this memorable recital ends with the most beautiful of his songs: My reverence.
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