Opéra Garnier

The Opéra Garnier, alternatively known as the Paris Opera or Palais Garnier is an opera house in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement. It was completed in 1875, and at the time of its creation it was the biggest opera house in Paris, and by extension the world. The former record is one that it held for the next 114 years, when Opera Bastille was built. The opera house was designed by Charles Garnier, who also gave it his name. He preferred a Neo-baroque approach to its architecture than the more common Neo-Classical style. As such, the beauty of the building was not so obvious to some, including the wife of Napoleon III. It was actually Napoleon III who inspired the idea of its creation during a time when the great reconstruction of Paris was going on. The Emperor wanted a world-class Parisian Opera to be built, and Garnier won the privilege to help realize this dream.

At the time, putting up any structure was chaotic, and the Opéra Garnier received a fair set of challenges in the time that it was coming up. The first major setback was the discovery of an underground lake in the area where the Opera was to be constructed. Second, the Franco-Prussian War disrupted the harmony that would have allowed such a building to be put up. Finally a fire consumed the building. Charles Garnier however summoned up whatever strength he had and oversaw the completion of the Opera into grandeur when it was opened in 1875.

The Opéra Garnier is considered to be an architectural masterpiece even among the buildings that follow the same architectural pattern. It is a monumental building in terms of size, as it rises to shortly above 70m. It has a seating of 1600 people, making it the second largest opera house in Paris. The façade is lined with rose marble columns which are reminiscent of Greek mythology. There are two gilded sculptures installed on the roof, one being Harmony and the other Poetry. On the roof on either side are two bronze creations, which are Pegasus figures. The interior is lavish and splendid. The Grand Staircase is awe-inspiring with its marble detail, and the Grand Foyer de la Danse has a stunning array of low hanging chandeliers and a mosaic covered ceiling that emphasizes on its sophistication. The auditorium has a painted ceiling and a grand chandelier in the whole opera house. The Opera gives an impression of extravagance from its interior detail, and this helps match up with the theatricals and expensive tastes of the opera patrons.

Until the Opera Bastille came to be built it was the Opéra Garnier that used to hold all the important Operas and it was the production center for the opera company which later relocated. It is still very much in operation, and it is frequently used for Ballets. While it is not as modern as the Opera Bastille, the Opéra Garnier did undergo some modernization work to make it more contemporary. It received a lot of electrical modifications in 1969. In 1994, a restoration project was undertaken. The goal was to improve the electrical aspects of the Opera, and modernizing the stage machinery for easier and more flawless performances. Everything about the lavish décor was preserved, as this is one of the things that made the opera house the magnificent monument it was well known for. The foundation of the building was fortified also. The whole project was completed in 2007. There is a dining place called the L'Opéra Restaurant which was only recently opened. It is a fine dining restaurant. Outside the opera house is the Place de L’Opera. It is a public square that was built at around the same time the Opéra Garnier was being built, and it was also designed by the same architect.

The Opera Bastille may have a lot more to offer, but most people prefer the Opéra Garnier. It is a richer work of art, and its extravagance that is depictive of 19th century sumptuousness is magnificent to say the least. If you want to appreciate the glamour of this operahouse, you can always visit it during a ballet performance. If not a regular visit would suffice as the opera house is open to tourists and visitors.