The Opera Garnier
Together with the Bastille Opera which opened in 1989, the Opera Garnier is Paris Opera’s second venue. Performers here have included Rudolf Nureyev and Maria Callas.
The flamboyant Second Empire, neoclassical baroque design is what makes it a magnet for residents and tourists alike. It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful opera and ballet houses on the planet.
The architect Charles Garnier built the place in 13 years from 1862, after winning a design competition against over 170 competitors. Plagued with incident, the construction did not go smoothly. The Franco-Prussian war interfered with cash flow, a fire gutted it in 1873, and in the middle of building it, an underground lake was discovered beneath the foundation. When it finally opened in 1875, Opera Garnier was the biggest opera house in the world.
It covers 11,000 square metres and the stage has room for 450 performers, making it ideally suited for Grand Opera. Much of the rest of the building is taken up with stage support, and seating for 2,200.The Opera Garnier sadly is not used for staging operas anymore, but you can still see ballet and modern dance performances there.
The main attraction remains the décor, the sumptuous Napoleon III facade, the nymphs and cherubs, lavish gold leaf decorations and rich velvet, and a 6-ton chandelier. All are things to marvel at and let your eye wander over, as you listen to the music
The Opera Garnier is open to visitors from 10am to 4.30pm, though it closes at 1pm on matinee days. Admission is eight Euros with concessions for students and others, and there are guided tours for 17 Euros.
Pop down to the Opera Garnier from your nearby apartments. Paris will provide a rich evening of culture beginning with the opera and spilling into the the surrounding area, with many cafes and restaurants creating an atmosphere you will never forget.
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