Becoming a dedicated symphony orchestra
Despite the inauguration of the Auditorium in 1975, it proved impossible to significantly increase the number of symphony concerts because a large part of the musicians’ working hours was devoted to performances at the Opera. The situation changed in 1983 with the creation of a dedicated orchestra for the Opera, the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon. From that point on, the Orchestre de Lyon could devote itself entirely to the symphonic repertoire. Soon the orchestra was performing a total of 46 concerts in a year, just over a quarter of them were in Lyon, the rest in regional venues.
“National” label and a gold record
1984 saw the work accomplished by the Orchestre de Lyon and Serge Baudo earn two prestigious distinctions. Their Ravel disk, featuring the famous Boléro, was the first classical recording to achieve gold record certification after clocking up over 100,000 items sold. On top of this, on its 15th anniversary, the orchestra was awarded the label of “national orchestra”, confirming its exclusive status as a symphony orchestra and recognising its excellence and its ambassadorial role in the Rhône-Alpes region, throughout France and abroad. Serge Baudo continued to build the wider reputation and prestige of the orchestra, now known as the Orchestre national de Lyon (ONL), deepen its knowledge of the French repertoire and broaden its scope to include contemporary works. In 1986, the first disc recording of Henri Dutilleux’s Timbres, Espace, Mouvement was released (in its original version, without the interlude for cellos), combined with his Symphony No. 1. That same year, the ONL undertook its first tour in the United States and Canada.