The Palais Garnier – Part 2.
Last week, we presented you a brief history of the Opera Garnier. Today, let’s all visit it!
Called Opéra de Paris until the opening of the new Opera Bastille in 1989, the Palais Garnier is really a masterpiece of architecture. With its 172 meters long, 101 meters wide, 79 meters high and a surface area of 11237 sq.m., it is one of the greatest opera houses in the world!
Alongside Charles Garnier, 73 sculptors and 14 painters have participated in the completion of this building. The main facade is monumental, with numerous sculptures, columns, lanterns, candelabra, statues streetlights, and its access ramp to the west wing (Rue Scribe) which was intended to accommodate the carriage of the emperor who could not take advantage of it, because he abdicated five years before the opening of the opera house…
Designed as a luxurious temple of entertainment dedicated to opera and ballet, the Palais Garnier is magnificent. The auditorium, the public areas with the large foyer, the rotunda and the lounges are sumptuous. The Palais also houses a library-museum, several repetition studios and workshops.
- The Grand Staircase
Built in marble of various colours, the Grand Staircase is an extraordinary place where stands the famous double staircase illuminated by candelabra, leading to the Grand Foyer and various floors of the auditorium.
Different allegories of music are painted on the ceiling. In this incredible décor, it is easy to imagine the Grand Staircase itself as a theatre, where, in years gone by, the crinolines of fashionable society ladies would brush…
- The Foyers
Upstairs are the large open foyers where spectators crowd before the show and during intermission.
From the balconies you can have a splendid view of the nave.
The Grand Foyer is richly decorated with a large gallery in sparkling colours and gold. Mirrors and large windows accentuate its vast dimensions. Here again the themes of Music, Comedy and Tragedy are beautifully declined.
At the center of the foyer is a bust of Charles Garnier, near one of the windows that look down the Avenue de l’Opera towards the Louvre.
- The Auditorium
The Italian-style horseshoe-shaped auditorium has three tiers of boxes under a dome supported by eight columns and pilasters of colossal size. Lit by a huge crystal chandelier (weighing 8 tons), this auditorium in shades of purple and gold can accommodate nearly 2,000 spectators.
Redecorated in 1964 by Marc Chagall, the ceiling is adorned with beautiful paintings reminiscent of musical works. The stage curtain imitates beautifully a drapery with tassels and braids.
At the back of the stage are hidden the huge machinery of the theatre, and behind again, another lounge, the Foyer de la Danse, rehearsal space reserved for the ballet. But before the 1930s, some aristocrats and wealthy bourgeois could access that foyer to meet the dancers, and a gallery above with hidden oculus in the luxurious scenery of the ceiling to admire them in all discretion and as much as desired. The decors of this foyer recalls this time when certain wealthy took in their protection a ballerina of humble origins…
- The Salon du Glacier
Completed after the opening of the opera house, the Salon du Glacier has very distinct decors reminiscent of the 1900s. This rotunda with its fresh and bright Bacchanalia painted by Clairin, is located at the end of the bar gallery.
- The Library-Museum
The library-museum of the Palais Garnier is located in the Rotunda of the Emperor.
The museum houses various collections that reflect the history of the Opera for three centuries. Rotating exhibitions are regularly organized.
The library is a department of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and has 80,000 volumes and prints relating to the arts of theater, song and dance.
The Opera House can be visited
Historic monument since 1923, it is one of the most prestigious monuments of Paris and one of the most visited.
Take time to discover it, you will enjoy it during a free visit or a guided tour! The Grand Staircase, the Foyers, the Auditorium, the museum and the temporary exhibition hall can be visited freely every day from 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:30).
The guided visit includes a general tour of the theatre with a presentation detailing its history, its architecture and the different activities that take place within it.
Please note that for artistic or technical reasons, the Auditorium may not always be accessible.
For detailed information about the visits, click here: Opéra Garnier – Visits
Opéra National de Paris:
To follow all the news and the calendar of the Opera National de Paris: click here.
Currently playing at the Opera Garnier:
- Rain : Ballet from Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, until June 7, 2011
- Cosi Fan Tutte : Opéra from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, from June 16 to July 16, 2011
- Les enfants du paradis : Ballet from José Martinez, from June 29 to July 15, 2011.
Palais Garnier :
- At the corner of the Rue Scribe and the Rue Auber – Paris 9ème
- Metro: Opéra, lines n° 3, 7, 8
- RER : Auber station, line A.
Hotel Britannique Paris, Romantic Paris Hotel, 3 star Hotel Paris