Opera Garnier, or also known as Paris Opera, has a very long history. Founded originally by King Louis XIV, the opera is now widely known as Opera Garnier because it is hosted at Palais Garnier, a palace built according to a design by Charles Garnier in the 19th century.
Today, Paris Opera has two buildings to house its shows, Opera Bastille where it produces modern operas and Opera Garnier or Palais Garnier where it produces classical operas and ballet performances.
History of Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier is the thirteenth place to house the Opera Garnier since 1875. The palace is also an important symbol of the 19th century baroque style in France. It was Napoleon III who ordered a competition to design a building which would serve as a part of great Parisian reconstruction project which was coined by Baron Haussmann. An architect named Charles Garnier won the competition and the rest is history.
The construction of the building started in 1862. However, it was not an easy project since an underground lake was discovered during its construction process. There were also several other disruptions such as the 1870 war and the fall of Commune Empire. Ii total it took 13 years to completely finish the construction. Palais Garnier, together with Paris Opera, then launched for the first time on January 5, 1875. The underground lake then inspired Paul Leroux, a play writer, to create a play with the lake as a setting. The play became famous and we know it today as the “Phantom of the Opera.”
The architecture of Palais Garnier is really grand from the outside. It is 172 meters long, 125 meters wide and 73,6 meters tall. Decorations are including sculpture, gargoyles, rose marble columns, friezes, and two large gilded statues. In 2000, there was a renovation of the main façade which made the statue work to be more appealing.
The interior of Palais Garnier is no less captivating than its exterior. In the way lading to the grand foyer, there is the Grand Staircase which has become the main symbol of Palais Garnier. There are four sections of painted ceilings above the staircase which depict different music moods. The Grand Staircase then ends on large female figures and two bronze torcheres, confirming its grandeur aura.
The grand foyer provides an enough space for guests to stroll around during break. It is decorated with mosaic ceiling and chandeliers hanging on it. The mosaic on the ceiling was designed by Paul Baudry and portrays the history of music. A bust sculpture of Charles Garnier by Carpeaux can be found in the center of the Grand Foyer as a tribute to the man who designed the building masterpiece.
Hidden behind the Grand Foyer, there is a lavish auditorium. It is decorated with expensive red velvet, plaster cherubs, and gold leaf. It is also decorated with a spectacular chandelier which weighs a massive six tonnes. The decoration at the ceiling of the auditorium was painted by Marc Chagall in 1964. There are 1,900 seats covered in red velvet in the auditorium ready for guests.
Visiting Opera Garnier
Palais Garnier is located at the square of 9th arrondissement, just a bit to the north of the 2nd arrondissement. The opera building has 2,200 seating capacity which makes it one of the largest theaters in the world. However, you don’t need to see one of the performances to be able to enjoy the famous ceiling by Chagall.
The Palais is open for public from July 15th to September 10th at 10 am – 4.30 am. The ticket price is 8 euros. To get there, you can take Metro, RER, and bus.