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.|