Enjoy the Splendor of the Paris Opera House

Europe - Editor - 04 August 2008

Enjoy the Splendor of the Paris Opera House

The Paris Opera House, also known as the Palais Garnier, Opera de Paris or Opera Garnier, is a famous landmark and tourist attraction in the capital city of France, which is widely considered to be a superb example of Neo-Baroque style architecture. Designed by renowned French architect, Charles Garnier, and completed in 1875, the Paris Opera House with its elaborate grandeur and lavish decorations is a reminder of the opulence of the bygone era which it represents.

Visitors will soon see why many are of the opinion that the Paris Opera House, with its water filled subterranean chambers, served as the inspiration behind the fictional opera house which is depicted in the 1910 book “Phantom of the Opera” and the subsequent films and musicals.

Since the principle opera company of Paris relocated to the modern Opera Bastille building at the far end of Paris, the Paris Opera House has been used for ballet performances, as well as for performances by visiting opera companies. The main auditorium boasts a central chandelier, weighing more than six tons, suspended above the 2,200 seats for the audience, with the stage being large enough to accommodate up to 450 performers. The interior of the Paris Opera House is richly decorated in velvet and gold leaf, with marble columns, friezes, cherubs, nymphs, chandeliers and numerous statues, many of which portray Greek mythological deities sculpted by renowned sculptors including Jean-Jospeh Perraud and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. The reception area, with its maze of corridors, alcoves, stairwells and landings, is designed to accommodate large numbers of people with ease and allows for socializing before the show and during intermission. Bronze busts of many great composers, such as Beethoven and Mozart, have pride of place between the columns of the building’s front façade.

King Louis XIV (1638-1715) was particularly fond of opera and in 1713 made the Paris Opera Company a state institution. Prior to the building of the Paris Opera House, the opera company used a total of thirteen theaters throughout Paris, many of which were destroyed by fire. It was Emperor Napoleon III who initiated the construction of the Paris Opera House as it stands today. There were numerous obstacles to the completion of the building, one being the fact that it was being built over a subterranean lake which caused the ground to be swampy, requiring continual drainage and another being the Franco-Prussian War from July 1870 to May 1871. Overcoming all obstacles, the opera house was eventually completed and inaugurated on 15 January 1875 with much pomp and ceremony.

If you have the good fortune to visit Paris, be sure to visit the Paris Opera House, either on a tour, or as a member of the audience for a show – it will be well worth your while.

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paris, opera, france, napoleon


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