Garnier Opera House: Night at the Ballet


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Although many of the opera performances have been moved to the new Bastille opera house, the 19th century Garnier Opera House is still the lieu for ballet performances. Wuthering Heights will premier September 21st at the Garnier Opera House for example.

Attending the ballet is a real treat. Seated in the loge or the balcony, you can admire the ceiling painted by Chagall along with all the ornate gold leaf moldings and statuary of 19th century Paris.

Of all the public buildings in Paris, there is perhaps no other staircase where the public itself becomes the spectacle, the place to see and be seen – where for an evening, each spectator has his or her chance to become part of the procession up the winding staircase. This is your chance to dress the part – and be a star for the night.

Although some fans of 19th century era decor – and decorum may wish that they could have seen this era of Parisian life first-hand, for many who earned their living on this stage, it was also in some respects, a gilded cage. Ballerinas of the Opera company survived primarily thanks to the attention of ‘benefactors’. It was in the ornate salons of the Opera House that they met their benefactors during intermission. If the walls could talk – how many stories they might tell?

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During your stay in Paris, if you have the choice of one event to attend, go to the Garner Opera House. Tickets to events can bought at the Opera House ticket window. Because ballets and concerts are often sold out in advance to regular subscribers, be sure to ask your hotel concierge about the possibility of getting tickets for events.

If you can’t attend a performance, daily tours of the Paris Opera House are conducted when rehearsals aren’t in progress.

Before going there, be sure to pick up DVD of the original Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Sr., the silent film classic where he perches on the rooftop of the Opera House. What better way to get into the mood for a night at the ballet?

Trivia: Opera architect Garnier had also put in a bid to build the 1889 Universal Exhibition monument – if he had won the bid, what would we have in place of the Eiffel Tower? We’ll never know.