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A Tale of Two Operas: Paris’ Palais Garnier and Opéra de la Bastille

Paris is home to two world-class opera houses, the historic Palais Garnier and the more contemporary Opéra de la Bastille. Operated under the same organizational umbrella, they offer a variety of spellbinding operatic, orchestral and ballet performances throughout their jam-packed seasons. Music and dance aficionados will be thrilled by performances at either national treasure.

opera-garnierInaugurated in 1875, The Opéra (Palais) Garnier is a 2,200-seat opera house located at Place de l’Opéra in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. It is called Garnier in homage to 19th century architect, Charles Garnier, who designed this Neo-Baroque masterpiece. The opera house has been known by many names.  Originally called Académie Nationale de Musique – Théâtre de l’Opéra, it kept this title until it’s renaming in1978 as Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris. When the Paris Opera chose the Opéra Bastille as their principal performance space in 1989, the original opera was again renamed as Palais Garnier.

opera-garnier-ceilingA feast for the eyes, the lavish Palais is decorated with detailed multicolored marble friezes, columns, and statues of Greek mythological characters. There are also numerous bronze busts of many great composers, such as Mozart, Rossini, Daniel Auber, Beethoven, Meyerbeer, Fromental Halévy, Spontini, and Philippe Quinault. The stunning ceiling was painted by Marc Chagal.

Today, Palais Garnier is home of the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the finest companies in the world. During its annual season, the Ballet stages close to 180 performances featuring works by both classic and contemporary choreographers. Most members of the company are in their mid-twenties. Dancers join the Ballet between the ages of 16 and 20 and retire around the age of 42.  Nearly all of the company’s dancers are trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School, a world-renowned institution. The 174-member Orchestre de Paris plays in all major performances at the Palais Garnier and the Opéra de la Bastille, which comes close to 280 performances per season.

opera-bastilleOpéra de la Bastille (Bastille Opera) is a contemporary, architecturally striking opera house located at Place de la Bastille in Paris’ 12th arrondissement. It is the principal performance space of the Opéra National de Paris. The opera house has 2,723 seats and features a modern aesthetic with clean lines, steel and glass. It stands on the former site of the Bastille train station (closed in 1969), which was demolished in 1984 to make room for the opera house. Opéra de la Bastille opened on July 14, 1989, the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.

Opéra de la Bastille
67, Rue Lyon
75012 Paris, France
+33 1 43 47 13 22
Metro: Bastille

Palais Garnier – Opéra National de Paris
1, place de l’Opéra, 75009
+33 1 40 01 80 52
Metro: Opéra

Paris’s Cultured 12th Arrondissement |

Wednesday 27th of March 2013

[...] both its modern and more traditional opera and orchestral performances. For more information, see A Tale of two Operas. 67, Rue Lyon 75012 Paris, France +33 1 43 47 13 22 Metro: [...]

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