Friday, February 4, 2011

Opéra Garnier

It was probably during the month of September three plus years ago that I first tried to go take a peek at the Opéra Garnier .  I remember clearly that it was a lovely fall day, my kids were off to school, and I was going to have a Paris adventure. 

But when I went to buy my ticket, there was a sign posted "Auditorium closed due to rehearsal."  Well, I thought.  No point in paying without seeing the auditorium.  And I live in Paris after all.  I can come back any time.  Yeah baby.

Well the fact of the matter is that I didn't go back.  I thought about it but somehow it never happened.  Until yesterday.  When finally I was going to get my chance.  And better yet, rather than going on my own, I would see it all with the benefit of a incredibly knowledgeable and personable guide.

So imagine my disappointment when I walked in and saw the sign, "Auditorium closed due to rehearsal."  Dang.  Foiled again.  But this time, I didn't head home.  The guide was on his way, the rest of the group was there.  Oh well.  I'd just have to take advantage and then come back yet again.

Happily by the time we made it from the basement level up the grand staircase and to the level of the loggias, voila!  The auditorium was in fact open!  The folks who'd been involved in what must have been a technical rehearsal were packing up.  And there it was -- an amazingly sumptuous 19th century theater, all plush red velvet and gold woodwork, incredible chandelier, plus that ceiling by Marc Chagall.  Apparently quite controversial at the time of its installation in the mid 1960s (just like the controversy over I.M. Pei's pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre), it somehow not only works but looks like it was designed to be there from the start.

As it turns out, the main salle is only a small bit of the artistry that Charles Garnier bestowed upon this building.  The remaining public spaces were incredible in their own right.  So word to the wise, if you go for a visit, and the sign says, "Auditorium closed,"  take your chances.  As for me, I just have to figure out how to get back there for the ballet so I can experience it the way Garnier imagined.

Fab paintings in a circular room on the east side of the building slated to become a restaurant with a grand chef.

The grand foyer.  Kind of like the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.  Back in the day, women were not admitted to this space, that is, until Queen Victoria came for a visit and then all bets were off.


Andrea said...

The Opera Garnier is one of my favourite buildings in Paris and it's not a big tourist destination so you can almost have the place to yourself.

Cynthia said...

I did not have the same luck as you did :( I was quite disappointed as our visit was relatively quick!

debbie in toronto said...

I always seem to be stuck in a bus beside the Opera twisting my neck to have a look but have never gotten inside..thanks for the pictures..that foyer is something else....

have a good weekend Anne

Lisa said...

We finally made it inside the Opera on our last visit to Paris, our 4th time to the city. Why did we wait so long... I was duly impressed! What a grand building. Glad you enjoyed the tour. Get ballet tickets!

Harriet said...

Thanks for sharing these photos. I've not yet been on a tour inside, but now I want to do so on my next trip.

JoeinVegas said...

Wow - that is impressive

Starman said...

After all these years, I confess I've never been inside the auditorium.

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