The Abbey Church of Saint-Robert - La Chaise-Dieu
On the high plateau of Livradois-Forez, atthe heart of the Haute-Loire – the“Midi de l’Auvergne” –the village of La Chaise-Dieu, and the abbey church of Saint-Robertespecially, constitutethe focal point of the Festival.
The Abbey hosts most of the concerts. It is this site that truly characterises this event, not only forits remarkable acoustics, but also forthe quality of the furnishingsand ornaments it contains, which testify to the richness of religious art through the ages. Here, one can admire the marble tomb of Pope Clement VI, a famous Dance of Death, a remarkable collection of tapestries, the organ case (early eighteenth-century), the 144 wooden stalls, and more.
The origin of the building dates back to the eleventh century when Canon Robert deTurlande founded the first Casa Dei monastery, The House of God. Later, in the fourteenth century, a former monk of La Chaise-Dieu become Pope in Avignon, Clement VI, decided to finance the general reconstruction of the building, in which he was subsequently buried in accordance with his wishes.
After the French Revolution, the monks were dispersed and left the Abbey.The church was reduced to the role of parish church, but this save dit from destruction. In 1984, the Communauté Saint-Jean moved to La Chaise-Dieu and reforged a link withthe millenary monastic tradition of Casa-Dei.
A stone rood screen separates the Abbey into two parts, so that during the Festival concerts, several types of seats are available to the public. The choir seats and stalls enjoy a direct view and excellent acoustics. In the central nave, the stage is visible only partially through the double door in the center of the rood screen. The seats in the lateral naves do not have a direct view of the stage. The lateral and central naves do, however, benefitfromlargescreensshowing the performance.The acoustic qualities vary according to the seatoccupied and the musicbeing played.
A detailed presentation of the history and heritage of La Chaise-Dieu Abbey is available on the website of the Association des Amis de l’Abbatiale: www.abbaye-chaise-dieu.com
DURING THE FESTIVAL - VISITING THE ABBEY CHURCH
During the Festival, visits to the abbey church are very limited because of the constraints of installing equipment and rehearsing outside actual concert times. For more information, visit the Chaise-Dieu tourist office when you arrive(04 71 00 01 16).The Festival thanks you warmly for your understanding.