In all of its extraordinary pretentiousness the Paris Opera House was stunning, and I loved it. The Opera House was designed using classical and Baroque architecture using elaborate materials such as crimson velvet, crystal, gold leafing, and marble. It was masterfully designed throughout its interior, and is truly a pièce de résistance.
The Palais Garnier was built over a thirteen year period, and opened in 1875. It was commissioned by Napoleon III as part of a plan to carve out a more modern Paris from its medieval streets.
The architect was Charles Garnier, hence the name Palais Garnier or the Garnier Opera House. Although it is also known as the Paris Opera House or simply, The Opera.
The Opera’s most beautiful features are its decadent Grand Foyer, and the majestic staircase, which leads to five different levels.
The Grand Foyer is richly adorned with gold leafed columns, mirrors, dominating crystal chandeliers, and ornately painted ceilings. Nothing was spared to create this extraordinary space for guests to feel like royalty when coming to the Opera House.
The Grand Escalier (Staircase) is comparable to the foyer in its rich details. The marble staircase is double wide, and flanked at both sides with additional stairs that lead to other foyers and floors. The ornate escalier is headed by two beautiful copper statues balancing crystal candelabras, as to welcome you into the theatre.
There is a sense of dignity and glamour when ascending or descending the staircase. It clearly makes a jaw-dropping statement to all those who visit the Opera House, or come in for a performance.
There are also marvelous frescoes painted by one of my favorite French artists, Marc Chagall. In 1964, the opera’s ceiling was renovated, and Chagall was commissioned with painting 2,400 square feet of frescoes. When the ceiling was unveiled, the frescoes caused controversy and were widely contested.
Personally, I admired them but it is Marc Chagall, who was an early modernist, and I would not have expected anything different. Although I do understand the contention, considering Chagall’s modernistic approach as compared to the original ornate and classical interior.
The Paris Opera has been the main opera and ballet company in France, which is still in production to this day. As a former ballet dancer who comes from a family of professional ballet dancers, it was impressive that what is known today as “Classical ballet” arose with the Paris Opera Ballet. This classic style of ballet has remained an important and integral part of the ballet company.
The Opera House is open for self-guided and guided tours, if you are not interested in watching a performance. There are wonderful exhibitions of costumes and stage dioramas that are included with the tour.
Although I do recommend a performance, in order to get the full experience of the Paris Opera House – Enjoy your visit!
For Paris Opera House visiting information and performances, please visit- The Palais Garnier
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