Patrice Chéreau was born on November 2 1944 in Lézigné, Maine-et-Loire. He grew up in Paris on the Left Bank near the Pont des Arts. His mother was a graphic designer and his father a painter. Both introduced him to museums at an early age, above all the Louvre. Chéreau would later say: “my education was pictorial and my beginnings came from painting”.
Around the age of twelve, he begins attending theatrical performances. During his school years at the Lycée Louis-Le-Grand, he frequents the film archives and becomes an active participant in the school’s theatre group; he is cast for walk-on parts, oversees duel scenes and helps to make sets and costumes. In 1964, Patrice Chéreau directs his first production: L’Intervention by Victor Hugo. In 1967, he stages Jakob Lenz’s The Soldiers, which he would describe as a “faux opéra” in so far as he chooses to use an orchestra in the pit. The discovery of a recording of La Traviata awakens his desire to work in opera.Henceforth, painting will influence the way he conceives and organises space, as well as the way he gives expression to the events that take place within it. The early Italians and Flemish - Bosch and Brueghel in particular - fascinate him, as do the great French painters of the 19th century like Géricault. Attentive to lesser-known artists, he also falls in love with the ruined structures and apocalyptic landscapes of Monsù Desiderio.
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