Tim Douglas, The Australian, reports
Cate Blanchett has been awarded the Chevalier Medal, one of France's highest cultural honours, during the sold-out first leg of the Sydney Theatre Company's European tour.
Blanchett, the STC's artistic director, was presented with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des arts et des lettres last week by French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand, a nephew of late former president Francois.
The order recognises significant contributions to the arts and literature.
Blanchett, 42, starring as Lotte in the company's touring production of Gross und Klein (Big and Small), was in Paris and unavailable for comment last night.
STC general manager Patrick McIntryre said while the award was a well-deserved personal honour for Blanchett, it was broadly representative of all Australian artists.
"I think the real story is what this means to Australia . . . to have an Australian artist recognised by the French government in this way," he said.
"The fact that it's Cate and that she is on stage in Paris makes it extra special. This is an extraordinary and well-deserved honour."
The first leg of the company's continental tour of the Botho Strauss play wrapped up last night at Paris's famed 19th-century Theatre de la Ville, where it has garnered favourable reviews since opening in the French capital on March 29. McIntyre said the reaction had been "terrific and the houses full".
"To have won over the notoriously tough Parisian audiences is a wonderful start (to the tour)," he said.
The production, which opened last November in Sydney, will make its way to London where it will headline the Cultural Olympiad festival, before touring Vienna and the German festival city of Recklinghausen.
Blanchett and her husband, fellow STC co-artistic director Andrew Upton, will leave the company next year.
The company engaged a recruitment firm in January to appoint new artistic leadership, but McIntryre said it was still early days on an appointment.
"We're working towards an announcement in the new year, so there can be a long handover," he said.