Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Night at the Opera

I suppose this post should really be called "A Day at the Opera," but I couldn't resist the play on the title of the Marx Brothers movie!
Actually, our drive through Paris earlier in the week and our later Sunday walk had taken us to the outside of the Paris Opera.

In fact, that earlier Sunday, as we walked around the opera house, we were entranced by the beautiful sculpture celebrating the great musicians.

It was beautiful, but more important, it was such a fine tribute -- a palace made for celebrating the best of music.

It was particularly relevant and touching for Rick, as he places classical music
high on his list of passions.
So, I was anxious for him to see the inside, which I had seen several years before.
The Paris Opera (also known as Opera National de Paris Garnier) was was named after its designer, Charles Garnier.

These days most operas are performed in the Opera Nationale de Paris Bastille, but the Garnier building remains the permanent home of the Paris Ballet.

When one walks into the grand lobby, they are confronted with grand staircases made of marble. 
If you have seen "Phantom of the Opera" you may recall the "Masquerade" number, which was "set" in this grand space.
A look at the clip above gives you an idea of the Paris Opera -- I don't believe the movie was filed on location here, though.

(The "Phantom" story by Paul Leroux was inspired by the Paris opera and, as in the play, there is a small lake under the building. I just adored looking up!)

On each side, small balconies allow a beautiful overhead view.

To put this opulence into perspective from an American history point of view, the building was started in 1862, right during the middle of America's Civil War.

While the North and South were battling one another in the U.S., often destroying the countryside and landmarks in the process, Paris was in a period of growth, with Baron Hausmann designing the streets and Napoleon III living in grand opulence.

It took 13 years to complete the building.It is a masterpiece of marble, bronze and stone.

One of the things that struck us were the monuments, in the form of busts, mostly, to people we'd not heard of. Were they among the composers of the day who have since faded in recognition to all but the serious classical music lover? Or perhaps a patron of the arts.

A wonderful "hall of mirrors," laden with gold, allowed patrons to wander during intermissions and revel in the splendor of the age.
In the chambers surrounding the lobby, you will find beautiful mosaics and paintings.
I was particularly fond of this one...

...and this one, as well.
When I was here in 2009, I couldn't get access to the theater itself, as the ballet was in rehearsal.

It looked as though it might be that way on this trip, too -- until we followed a group of school children and their parents into one of the boxes. This was what we saw!

The theater itself is a feast of red velvet and gold. The graceful balconies sweep over the orchestra in elegant lines.
The real treat is to look up. Above, a false ceiling designed by Marc Chagall.

The ceiling was designed and installed in 1964.

As a Chagall fan, I couldn't resist this, and indeed, had wanted to see it quite desperately. So, I was glad we could slip in!
 In some ways, it doesn't fit. And in others, it is so lovely, it doesn't have to!

I can't resist a beautiful theatre. If you can't, this is well worth the visit!
(Later in this series of posts we will visit the Paris Opera House's museum, a gem of a spot for fans of opera and ballet. And don't forget, comments on this and any of the "European Vacation" posts will be included in my upcoming drawing!)

Tips on Visiting the Opera Area

For some great views of the exterior of the opera house, cross to the Opera metro station, right across the street.

Or, go the room of Gallerie Lafayette, the department store nearby, where you'll catch great views of the exterior. (We'll have a post about that store later!)

If you are in a walking mood, leave the front of the opera and head straight -- you'll end up at the Tuileries. (That's the Louvre in the background!)

The traffic circle outside the Louvre around the Metro is a little crazy. Be careful!


Anonymous said...

Makes me want to dress the shop as a theater. ;) Oh my goodness, these pictures are a dream. This is my favorite of your French tour posts. At one point, I got so lost in the pictures I felt like I was holding my breath. I wondered how I would react and I can imagine myself standing still, not blinking in order to take in as much beauty as I possibly could without rushing to the next view. I know I would stand still. I cannot begin to imagine anyone rushing through this. Sigh...beautiful.
Thanks for sharing, Jeanie, and I love the pic with your beautiful smile wearing red. The composition of the photograph is perfect with the red pop. Love it.
Much love,

Arti said...


The Paris Opera is awesome! Your photos exquisite. Thanks for bringing me on a virtual tour. Again, with much regrets, this is another point of interest that I just passed by, taking photos of the exterior only. I'd love to visit Paris again, with you as a guide. You sure know how to capture the beauty of places and point out important facts as well as interesting tidbits. I look forward to your next post!

Retired English Teacher said...

This place is truly magnificent! Your photos really do give us a perspective of the grandeur of it all. That marble staircase is really amazing. I'm so glad you got to go into the theater. What a spectacular place! The opulence of it all is overwhelming. I have to agree with you that artwork on the ceiling doesn't really quite fit, but its beauty makes it all ok.

You, my dear, look stunning dressed in your beautiful red top with the lovely scarf draped tastefully around your neck. You could not have picked a better backdrop to show off the look of joie de vivre on your face.

Marilyn said...

I have been by the Opera House on several occasions, but had no idea what I was passing by. It is spectacular and now this is a must for a next visit to Paris. I would love that Chagall ceiling too. Amazing! Beautiful!

Joanne Huffman said...

Way cool! I knew the Paris Opera House would be elegant, but love the photos showing how elegant; thanks.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Great post! You did this place justice! It was stunningly beautiful. I got to see a ballet danced to Vivaldi's 4 Seasons. It was amazing. I got there early so I could look around - and was just floored by how beautiful it is!!

Your tips in these posts are always so great!

Jeanie said...

You do such a wonderful job of sharing all that you see with us. Your knowledge and appreciation of what you see is incredible. Thank you for sharing another beautiful set of pictures.

Introverted Art said...

These are exquisite. Paris will always be dear to me. That's where my husband proposed...

joyce said...

Steeped in culture you are!

Toriz said...

WOW; just WOW!

Tracy said...

"A palace made for celebrating the best of music"...and what a palce of celebration it is! This was incredible to see, Jeanie... I've gone all teary-eyed, it's all so amazing. I love the Chagall ceiling in the theater! I like how the Chagall ceiling "doesn't quite fit," so it's like a fun surprise when one looks up. :o) We have got to get ourselves to Paris next year! Can't wait to see more, Jeanie! ((HUGS)) P.S. About those strawberries at my place--they were fantastic, the berries are really good this year! And I'm so glad you enjoy the Being Here Now monthly "list posts"--I must say, they are among my fave to write. :o)

Jenny Woolf said...

Good gracious, I am genuinely amazed at this post. I have often passed the Opera Garnier and even looked at the outside but I had no idea that it was like that inside. It seems to be far more elaborate than even the most elaborate opera houses elsewhere.

We're planning to spend a couple of nights in Paris next autumn. Nothing in their next season enthrals me but it would be well worth trying to get a guided tour. So thanks for the heads up on this!

Icy BC said...

You're so lucky to be there for the second time. Every thing is so grand, outrageously divine, and gorgeous.

Barb said...

You look appropriately Parisian, Jeanie! Rick looks like he's swooning at what he's experiencing. Your photos make me feel as though I was walking with you.

shoreacres said...

What a wonderful series of photos. You do, indeed, bring a place alive. I'm no fan of maintaining things as they were just for that purpose alone, but I must say the Chagall felt jarring to me. Still, I can understand the rationale.

The first thing my eye fell on was the name of Bach. It reminded me of an old, old cartoon from the New Yorker - a fellow hanging a sign on the door of his music shop that said, "Bach at 2. Offenbach Sooner"!

The Artful Diva said...

Red is definitely your color! You look beautiful at the Opera House.

Vagabonde said...

I have read your Paris travelogues – but Jeanie to tell you the truth it is very hard for me because I am here in the USA and Paris is my home. I remember going to the opera with my mom when I was a teen to see Rigoletto before l’OpĂ©ra Bastille was built, and also The Barbier of Sevile – we had Champage during the intermission. So this brings so many souvenirs and it makes me melancholy, living here in the US where I rarely speak or even hear my language, but that’s life. Isn’t the Sainte Chapelle beautiful? You know it is not church but a monument – belongs to the monuments of Paris, which is why they have so many concerts there. I went to the blog you mentioned but could not really understand what it was – is she a tour guide going to Paris? She says to her her party - how many people will go with her I wonder, It looked like good PR for Paris. The song she had “La Complainte de la Butte” I bought as a 45 records when I lived at home.
I’ll come back to see more of your travelogues, but I have to get out of my sad mood first. I am homesick right now – it’s hard to be an expat sometimes.

Bella Rum said...

I think I have that same scarf you're wearing!

I can't believe how beautiful the pics were. It must have been wonderful to see all that in person. I can only imagine. Breathtaking.

Cheryl said...

OH my goodness... oh my goodness... so much to look at! I would have felt dizzy trying to look at everything at once, such beauty!!! Lucky YOU!!

Pat K. said...

Just stunning, Jeanie! Your photos make me feel like I am in the midst of all this beauty. If I ever get to Paris again, this opera building will be on my "must see" list.

Peter Olson said...

Of course I know the places you have presented in your latest posts, including this one, but what I particularly appreciate with your posts (apart from the good photos), is the pure feeling of love you express for the places, the poeple...

Friko said...

Impressive, isn't it.
I love these grand buildings too, there are a lot of them in Europe.

I hope you'll be telling us that you attended a performance of opera or ballet?

Maggie said...

What an amazing building, I can't believe that I've yet to step foot inside, quelle horreur!
I can feel a day trip coming on!
Thanks so much for the virtual tour and all the tips that you provide for sightseeing in Paris.

ds said...

So beautiful, Jeanie, and you look right at home. Thanks so much for sharing!

Kelly said...

Ooohhh how I love the Paris Opera <3 It looks exactly how I remember it in your photos! Thank you so much for sharing!!

~*~Patty S said...

These photos are especially brilliant Jeanie
Thanks so much for sharing your French adventures!!!

BECKY said...

Jeanie, what wonderful photos! You look absolutely beautiful in the one of you in your red outfit! I'm envious of your lovely trip, but not TOO envious! :)

Esme said...

Great photos,I loved touring the opera it was spectacular, next time I visit I want to see a performance

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I have been scrolling back and reading ALL the posts I have missed...This is ALL such a great great treat---your pictures of everything---SOOOO VERY WONDERFUL! I feel like I have taken a trip to Paris, with you....! Thank You So Much, My Dear! I LOVED IT ALL!

Louise said...

We stayed a block or so away from here on our last trip. A magnificent area if anyone is thinking about it. One day we went inside too, it's so glorious. We didn't get into the theatre itself that visit so I didn't see that Chagall ceiling- it's magnificent, I loved seeing your shots.

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