Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Inside the Paris Opéra

On the 5th of January 1875 the new opera house of Paris, designed by Charles Garnier, became the centre-piece of a Paris that had been redesigned by Baron Haussmann. Napoleon III had commissioned it but died three years before it opened.

There are no trees planted along the avenue leading to the opera house so that passers-by can have an unobstructed view from the Opéra to The Louvre.

Many famous artists in the worlds of ballet and opera have worked and performed here, such as George Balanchine, who created a new choreography but fell ill and died before completing it; Roland Petit was accepted into the Opéra's Ballet School at the age of nine and danced there until he was twenty, when he devoted himself to choreography for ballets such as Notre Dame de Paris, and Phantom of the Opera.

Nureyev became Director of Dance at the Paris Opéra. He left after six years but remained the company's principal choreographer for many years.

It was with this history, and the romance of the musical Phantom of the Opera, that I decided to visit this beautiful building after hours. There are guided tours operating after the doors are shut to the public. This allows a bit of space to move around and take photos without the teeming crowds.

It's a very beautiful building in good condition. The ceiling of the auditorium was painted by Marc Chagalle. This auditorium is an Italian horse-shoe shaped construction with the ceiling supporting an eight ton chandelier. Our somewhat poorly presented guide spoke English as a second language but had quite a lot of information to impart, much of which doesn't, unfortunately, stick in the mind.

There isn't a lake under the building, such as in the Phantom novel, but there is a spring underneath the building, which proved to be a bit of an engineering challenge in the nineteenth century. The lavishness is amazing in the decor, and the workmanship jaw-dropping at times. This is the National Opera House but there are other opera houses in Paris eg near the Place de la Bastille.

While I was waiting for the tour to start I enjoyed a very talented musician and entertainer who delighted the crowd with his cover versions for an hour. The steps of the Opéra Garnier were packed with listeners. With such a great personality and rapport, as well as singing and instrumental talent he should do well.

 For further information go to https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/


Anonymous said...

Frances, you have painted a picture so well with your word. Well done!! Thanks for the tip of going on an afterhours tour. This place is so beautiful. :)

Post a comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.