|Photograph: Wikipedia labeled for reuse|
I considered doing some historical research for this post, but instead decided to let the photographs showcase the grandeur of this landmark building.
Originally called Palais Garnier (palais meaning palace and Garnier being the architect) this is home to the Paris Opera and until 1989, the Paris Ballet.
The building is a work of art on the outside as well as on the inside.
The size of the building commands attention. It is impossible to ignore. Once up close, the ornate stonework and elaborate statues are certainly more reminiscent of a palace than a fine arts theater.
The Grand Staircase welcomes all visitors once inside the building. The sheer size causes you to stop and admire. But the subdued lighting and the marble steps usher you back to another era – one of affluence, elegance, and refinement.
Once inside the theater, you expect to hear the haunting chords of the organ as it begins a performance of Phantom of the Opera. The plush red seats, the famous stage, the box seats with stunning views, all work together to create the perfect atmosphere.
And the ceiling is literally a work of art. Marc Chagall’s colorful portraits and landscapes are as entertaining as the performance on stage.
I was most excited to visit the upstairs corridor, the waiting room where the ballerinas would meet the patrons of the ballet. My first draft novel focused on this seedier side of the dance. Patrons were typically old financiers, whose annual contribution allowed them access to all parts of the building: the wings off stage, the girls’ dressing rooms, the waiting room where they would wait to proposition the poor young girls. The space behind the fireplace was a favorite meeting place.
My favorite part of the building, however, is standing outside on the balcony. The view down l’Avenue de l’Opera is breath-taking, and if you travel that road all the way to the Rue de Rivoli, you end up at the Louvre. I can attest that the walk is long, but so worthwhile.