Opéra Bastille

The Opéra Bastille is a modern Opera house in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, and the biggest one, as it is home to National Opera of Paris. Opera Bastille was created as a replacement for the Opéra Garnier, which was the biggest Opera in Paris before this one was built. The necessity to have a more modern opera was felt by famous composers and this inspired the then French President to have one constructed. A national competition to come up with the most exceptional design was held, and Carlos Ott emerged victorious, and came up with the design that the Opéra Bastille has. It was completed and opened in 1989, and had its first recorded performance the following year.

It was not exactly a smooth opening for Opéra Bastille especially since there were a lot of complains about the stage machinery and how its operation often disappointed. The integrity of the structure also came into question at one point when a slab fell from the building only a year after it was completed. However most of these worries were solved and it is now fully operational. The mechanical equipment on the stage works without flaw.

If the Opéra Bastille is anything it is large. It’s a mega structure with a seating capacity of over 2700 and the entire building can accommodate about 4000 people. It stands at 30 stories, or 80m with 30m being below the street level. The theater backstage is colossal and modern, and can allow for the effortless rolling in and out of entire sets from the stage without having to disassemble them. There are numerous rehearsal rooms, and every seat in the opera is guaranteed an unobstructed view of the stage. The acoustic balance is also very impressive, though there are some people who have expected better from an opera house that boasts international standards.

Opéra Bastille has an amphitheatre which is the second biggest audience seating area with 450 seats. The smallest is the studio which besides being the smallest of the three has a seating of about 237. The stage at the main auditorium is impressive with its large ergonomic area. There are mechanics that allow the stage to be raised and lowered over several stories if the performance necessitates it. Most of the national operas are conducted at this opera house owing to its more colossal size, as well as its offering of more modern structures. This makes the Opera Garnier, the other major theater in Paris have less activity. As such it is dedicated to ballets. While the Opéra Bastille is an architectural marvel, it does not receive the same kind of attention as the Opera Garnier with its neo-Baroque architecture that dates back to the 19th century. Owing to these facts the Opéra Bastille is the more functional opera house while the Opera Garnier is the more ornamental one.

Opéra Bastille is a common destination not only for Parisian opera lovers but also others from across France, and by extension the whole of Europe. Famous operas and concerts usually sell out fast, with the top seats being the most expensive, and usually more popular with the wealthy opera lovers. There are more affordable seats that cost only a fraction of the most expensive, and even these are usually all bought when there is a famous opera event in the offing.

As far as French opera houses goes, the Opéra Bastille is the best, and the most modern. Granted the Opera Garnier may have more to offer as a monument, but whatever the Opéra Bastille lacks as a tourist attraction more than makes up for in space and functionality.