Palais Garnier is one of the most important buildings in Paris. The building was built in an eclectic style and it is the thirteenth theatre that hosted the Paris Opera since its founding in 1669. It is known as the Paris Opera, but since the construction of the Bastille Opera in 1989, it has been known as the Opera Garnier. Palais Garnier dates back to the time of Napoleon III and it was part of an urban modernization plan. On December 30th, 1860, Napoleon III announced an architectural design competition for the new opera house. The famous architects Charles Rohault de Fleury and Eugene Viollet-de-Duc also participated in this competition. The contest took place in two phases. Charles Garnier’s project was one of the many projects that were admitted in the first phase. After that, each participant had to express his project through one motto. Garnier used “bramo assai, poco spero” (“Hope for much, expect little“).
The second phase required the contestants to revise their original projects. Finally, on May 30th, 1861, Charles Garnier won the competition. A year later, work began on the new opera house. Officially, on July 21st, 1862, Count Walewski laid the foundation stone of the building. Construction continued until 1868 when the works were interrupted, and in 1870 the Franco-German war broke out. During the war (1870-1871), the building was transformed into the warehouse and was damaged. On the night of October 28th-29th, 1873, a devastating fire destroyed the Opera Le Peletier. Under these conditions, the new French government was forced to resume construction of the Palais Garnier. The theatre was inaugurated on January 5th, 1875. The opening show was a gala attended by great officials such as Marshal MacMahon, the Lord Mayor of London and King Alfonso XII of Spain. The plan of the work developed a type of construction which was very common in France at that time. The exterior of the stage house reflects its interior structure and it is designed to ensure the representation of the modern works of the time, such as Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer or Faust by Charles Gounod, which required huge scenery and frequent stage changes. Palais Garnier was the main theatre in Paris. It was associated with the Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opera Bastille was inaugurated. Since then the company has used the Palais Garnier just for ballet performances.
Read the entire article here, in the 4th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.0