Opera Garnier or common name as Palais Garnier is the worlds most famous opera house.
This Opera Garnier -opera house was commissioned by Napoleon III in 1861 and the same year the construction works started.
Charles Garnier, this lucky fellow won the competition to architect the new opera house for Paris.
The building period took over than 13 years, and the opera was finished in 1874.
History of the Opera Garnier
The construction of the Opera Garnier had some complexions due to the discovery of the ground that was very swampy.
There was located a swampy lake that was all the time flooded and to drain this seemed to be unsuccessful, the water still kept on returning. Pumping the water out from the ground was not working.
This ate a lot of time for the construction workers, because a solution had to be found. After several fails of pumping out the water and drain the place, Charles Garnier decided instead to create a big tank, where the water could be stored and be used for the stability of the Opera Garnier building.
Later in time the fact that there was a huge water tank under the building inspired Gaston Leroux to write the world famous the Phantom of the Opera in 1910.
Even thought this opera itself is not one of my favourites, due to the fact that it is not my personal taste and was too often remixed to other genres.
Nevertheless this work has been inspired by Opera Garnier. Reason behind was that the counterweight from the big grand chandelier fell down and caused the death of one construction worker. Of course the real event such as this played a role in Leroux inspiration but the whole mystery behind Opera Garnier and the Phantom, that possibly lives in the building, maybe even in the water tank.
Rumours also say that in the water tank lives a big fish, or that fireworkers practice there swimming in the dark.
Lets get inside of this fantastic building, because it is even more majestic and elegant from inside than its outer appearance.
The entrance into the Opera Garnier starts with a wonderful staircase. This huge staircase with an amazing facades and balconies.
The idea behind of the architecture of the staircase was that the little balconies all around the staircase would allow other people to show themselves and also look others.
In other worlds to see others, and to be seen by others. The event –an Opera evening cost something and the event and whole evening had to be more or less “show off” session since not everyone could afford that.
The corridors and halls In the Opera Garnier are shining its perfection and elegance.
It is easily comparable with the Mirror hall in Versailles: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2013/10/palace-of-versailles-france
The details, the mosaic art on ceilings, amazing paintings, sculptures and wonderful design of the Halls and corridors leave a visitor speechless.
Of course one must think how it all were 100 years ago when a visitor should also should compete with the elegance of the building.
Therefore a visit to the opera house should also include a shiny, fortune-worthy gowns and suits and of course jewelry.
It is known that many banks around the Opera Garnier were open till very late, so that the jewelry that was worn by aristocratic ladies could be hidden immediately after the show ended.
Of course this has changed during times and nowadays the banks around the Opera Garnier are not opened so late anymore.
The life has changed, values as well. A visit to a Opera Garnier is still an amazing luxurious experience, but people do not dress to impress.
Lets step inside the theater itself. One of the biggest stage on earth. Of course nowadays it is used mainly for Ballet, since the Opera Bastille was built.
I will tell you more about this Opera house a bit later in this post.
A wonderful cupola and its Grand chandelier which weights at least 6 tons is hanging on the top of the roof.
The cupola is painted by Marc Chagall in 1964.
Before this, the original painting was Fresco by Jules Lenepveu. If you are curious to see the original cupola painting please check out here. Also there are many more old pictures of the opera house.
The cupola painting is at the very bottom of the page, so you must scroll for some time 😉
More details about the decor in Opera Garnier
About the cupola painting by Chagall. Well, it is a matter of taste. Some claim it to be a wonderful masterpiece, which break the rule of the classicism of the Opera house itself, still leaving a wonderful lightness and easiness into the Amphitheater.
Others say that it is a disaster and should not be placed there, since It is completely another genre.
Well many different opinions. In any case, it is now there and everyone who visits the Opera Garnier can go and admire his canvas painting, that represents moments from different operas by Wagner, Tsaikovsky, Stravinsky, Verdi and many more.
Tips for visiting Opera Garnier
If you are planning to book your tickets to a performance in Opera Garnier, check out carefully before purchasing any ticket, since some of the seats are really not that good. The top tier for example is maybe not so good place if you want to see the stage well, since it was mainly reserved for middle class people in old times. These people usually did come to the opera to hear wonderful music and also to see other rich people in the theater and from there the view was perfect.
An interesting fact:
The lights used to stay on during the whole performance so that people could also see each other during the Opera or Ballet. It is interesting, since nowadays the lights are turned off, that way audience can better concentrate on the show and also it gives the certain, right atmosphere for the performance.
Another Opera, this is Opera Bastille is nowadays the home of Opera, since Opera Garnier is used mainly for Ballet.
We had a wonderful evening and went to see Don Giovanni in Opera Bastille. The idea to build a new opera house next to Opera Garnier came from the president François Mitterrand in 1984 and was finished in 1989. The Opera Bastille is nowadays known as Paris National Opera House. The house was designed by Carlos Ott, he was from Uruguay.
The view to the stage is great almost from every corner of the theater.
These were our impressions regarding Opera art in Paris with the contrast buildings Garnier and Bastille, both unique and gorgeous in their own way, even though not comparable to each other. A visit of Opera house Garnier should be planned in anyway, if you have the time of approximately two hours and about 10 EUR per person for entrance! The impressions you get there will last for a lifetime, believe me!
See you soon with our main blog post “Paris” – Au revoir et Bisous!
Enjoy so long our photo impressions from this incredible building here.