The Paris Opera House – now no opera, just ballet

The Paris Opera House – now no opera, just ballet.

The Paris Opera House is called the Palais Garnier. It is located at the Place de l’Opéra in the 9th arrondissement.

Built from 1861 to 1975 during the reign of Napoleon III, it was first called le nouvel Opéra de Paris – the new Paris Opera. Now it’s not so new, but it is still opulent and grand. It is called Palais Garnier after the architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898). It held opera and ballet events with the Paris Opera Ballet. 

When a new, modern building, called the Opéra Bastille, opened in 1989, the Palais Garnier became the accommodation for the Paris Opera Ballet only, and opera was no longer held there. So, although it is probably the most famous opera house in the world, it is really a ballet house. However, it does hold the Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra de Paris– the Paris Opera Library-Museum. So, okay, it’s a little bit of an opera house. 

It is grand at 56 metres (184 feet) high, 155 metres (508 feet) long, and 70 metres (230 feet) wide. 

The architecture includes different styles, from the Baroque to Renaissance. The front view shows Aimé Millet’s Apollo, Poetry and Musicright at the top of the roof. Readers can see other works of Millet (1819-1891) in the Jardin des Tuileries and the Jardin du Luxembourg. 

The two copper-gilded statues on the roof are by Charles-Alphonse-Achille Gumery (1827-1871). L’Harmonie(Harmony) is on the left and La Poésie(Poetry) is on the right. Both are 7.5 metres (25 feet) high, erected in 1869.

Across the top of the columns is a stretch (frieze) of comic and tragic masks. Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagman (1810-1867) designed the six bronze-gilded masks. 

Below the frieze are four sculptures and between the columns are seven busts of famous musical composers: Italian Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868), French Daniel Francois Esprit Auber (1782-1871), German Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Salzburg/Austrian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Italian Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini (1774-1851), German Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864), and French Jacques-Francois-Fromental-Élie Halévy (1799-1862). 

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