April 23, 2016

Paris' splendid Opera House

It was a date. A date with my Swedish friend who was back in town for the weekend. I had been waiting for the perfect moment to finally tour the Opera Garnier. The last time I had been inside was to enjoy a ballet performance in 1992!

We met for breakfast at the posh Café de la Paix so we could catch up before having to focus all our attention on the tour guide. Ahh, these are the instants I love about Paris, when you just need to indulge in a cup of coffee and a croissant at an iconic Parisian café only to hop across the road and glide up the magnificent staircase into a thoroughly opulent Opera House.

Palais Garnier is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, largely because of its role in the novel turned musical, Phantom of the Opera. The 1,979-seater was started in 1861 and completed 14 years later. Charles Garnier’s plans for the new theater was halted many times due to war, limited funding and the demise of the empire that commissioned it. But thanks to a bit of determination along with a fire that destroyed the old opera house, it finally opened in 1875. People from all over the world gather here to experience the grandiose opulence of the Second Empire.

The highlight was the gilded auditorium with red velvet seats which we only got to peak at since rehearsals were being held. 24 hours earlier, star choreographer Benjamin Millepied had announced his resignation from Paris Opera Ballet, little more than a year after he arrived with a promise to radically shake up the world’s oldest and largest dance companies.

Well, I guess the French got the better of him!?!

Nevertheless, we were in awe at all the grandeur and glamour this place oozes out. We admired a massive chandelier and Chagall’s gorgeous ceiling mural, imagining the Black Swan wandering around in the shadows of the settings and half expecting Natalie Portman to turn up and scare us away. But then again, it might also be the phantom of the Opera?

One of Paris' most glamorous landmarks

A rather scary entrance... 

Opulence and grandeur

Sumptuousness and lavishness

Delicacy and femininity

Force and power

Still being haunted by that phantom?

Richness and magnificence

Luxuriousness and lushness

Splendour and glory

Beauty and elegance

A view from the balcony looking onto the Grand Hotel and the Café de la Paix

A detail of the facade

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