Le Grand Palais & Le Petit Palais
Opéra National de Paris - Palais
Designed by Charles Garnier, The Grand Opera.
1858, Napoleon III decided to build the Grand Opera, for which
Paris had long been awaiting, in the new business quarter designed
by Baron Haussmann. The previous halls, since the foundation
of the Académie Royale de Music, founded in 1669 by Louis
XIV, had been either of temporary construction or had been destroyed
December 1860, an architectural competition was organized for
the new opera house. Of the 171 architects participating, Charles
Garnier's design was the unanimous choice, maintaining a clear
picture of the internal functions of the building in its external
architecture, Garnier created an Opera House and stage in the
traditional Italian style, and in a grandiose setting, inspired
both by the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux built by Victor Louis in
1870 and by the Italian and French villas of the 17th and 18th
was intended to host the festivities of the Emperor's entourage
and of elegant audiences from the moneyed and social élite,
for whom a night at the Opera was a pleasant excuse for meeting
people and renewing acquaintances. For this reason, the passages,
halls, foyers, staircases, and rotundas occupy a far larger area
than the theatre itself.
started in 1861 and lasted for 14 years. The massive works were
slowed down by the discovery of a water table that had to be
drained before building an enormous concrete well designed to
carry the gigantic stage and fly tower. The well was filled with
water in order to counter the water pressure (hence the legend
of the underground lake popularized by Gaston Leroux's Phantom
of the Opera).
Franco-Prussian war and the Commune interrupted the construction
works, but the fire at the old opera in Rue Le Peletier in 1873
hastened the completion of the monument. It was officially inaugurated
during the Third Republic by Field Marshall de Mac-Mahon on 5
which is a perfect example of 19th century stage architecture,
hides its iron frame under flamboyant decoration. The overall
impression is harmonious in spite of the diversity of its inspiration
and the temes taken up by Charles Garnier. He personally supervised
the integration in the architecture of decorative works entrusted
to sculptors, painters and mosaic artists representative, as
himself was, of state-sponsored artists.
At the right of the entrance halls, there is the famous group
of dancers by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - the original is in the
Musée d'Orsay. The great staircase continues down towards
Pythia's water basin and the former subscribers' rotunda. The
stairs are decorated in marble and onyx, a true theatre of worldly
events, while the lobby is decorated with Venetian mosaics. Two
small rooms, one dedicated to the Moon, the other to the Sun,
lead to the main foyer, a princely gallery of gilded luxury in
which the mythological characters and the allegories of Paul
Baudry stand out.
is adorned by eight tapestries made by the Gobelins, under a
ceiling by Georges Clairin. In the auditorium itself, the great
chandelier illuminates the ceiling by Marc Chagall, which has,
since 1964, covered the original work of Jules-Eugène
Lenepveu. Echoing the colorful style dear to Charles Garnier's,
Chagall has designed his painting as a living image of the festive
spririt surrounding each performance: luminous, fluid figures
surge forth, contrasting with the gold and red tones of the theatre.
1881 down to the present day, several restoration and modernization
programmes have made the theatre increasingly functional without
lessening its appeal as a monument: technical progress and the
evolution of sets under the influence of "verism".
The next step was the building of a modern and popular opera
house: Opera Bastille."
me on the avenue in front of the Opéra National de Paris
- Palais Garnier, The Grand Opera.
view of the side of the theatre.
view of the Opéra.
for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 (stone, glass and steel
architecture). Major national temporary exhibitions organised
by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Association
Française d'Action Artistique (AFAA) and the Délégation
des Arts Plastiques (DAP).
for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The museum presents works
since Antiquity until 1925. Two major sections: the ancient art
fund (French, Flemish, Renaissance, eighteenth century art) and
the nineteenth century French art fund (Doré, Delacroix,
Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec).