When you visit the Opera Garnier, the splendor of the last century comes to life. This period was perhaps exemplified in the Phantom of the Opera, inspired by this beautiful building. You’ll also find the atmosphere of Degas’s famous paintings, which were also set within the opera house.
You’ll be impressed before even entering the building, as you observe the façade: the exterior of the Opera Garnier gives us a little taste of the sumptuous decorations that await within. Rich in design, the Opera is far from monochromatic. The building uses a variety of materials -- white stone, colored marble, bronze, gold – that create color on the façade. Of the four sculpted groups, be sure not to miss La Danse des Carpaux, which can be found on the right. (This is, however, a copy. The original can be found at the Musée d’Orsay).
Visit the interior of the Opera Garnier, and you won’t be any less impressed by the magnificent, multi-colored double-helix marble staircase, which leads to the halls and the operatic stage. The large staircase is theatrical in and of itself, a place where the upper crust could come to meet one another, attending performances in the opera house perhaps as much to be seen as to see. You can imagine beautiful ladies in long crinoline skirts coming down these steps?
Center stage of this spectacle is, of course, the auditorium itself, decorated in red and gold and built in the Italian style, in the form of a horseshoe. It’s lit by an enormous crystal and bronze chandelier, and five floors of private boxes line its walls. Lift your head to the ceiling to admire the bright colors, painted in 1964 by Marc Chagall. Then, discover the Opera Garnier’s many halls, vast and sumptuously decorated. You’ll notice a certain obsession with the lyre! These rooms were intended as places for the audience to take a stroll at intermission.
The large room is inspired by French chateau halls from the Renaissance; with its mirrors and bay windows, it almost seems like another version of the hall of mirrors! If you decide to take a guided tour, you’ll also be able to see the dance gallery, where men would have seduced the young dancers, as suggested by Degas’s paintings…
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