The Palais Garnier
Imagine yourself watching an opera; but instead of watching the actors and paying attention, you’re too busy admiring the decorations and the overall magnificence of the building you’re in. That’s why; I believe it’s safe to say that the Palais Garnier is not advisable for Interior Designers to watch operas in.
The Palais Garnier is a famous opera house in Paris, France. It was at first named Opéra de Paris Bastille , but later on changed to Palais Garnier in honor of its architect. It is also known as the Paris Opera or Opera de Paris Garnier.
During Emperor Napoleon III’s reign, he planned a great reconstruction of Paris. One of the buildings he planned on being constructed was an opera house. He picked civic planner Baron Haussmann to look over the reconstruction. In 1858, Napoleon III allowed Haussmann to clear some land for the construction of the opera house. An architectural design competition was then held in 1861 to design the new opera in which the architect Charles Garnier won. Afterwards, Construction started in 1962.
The architecture is done in a Beaux-art style while the interiors are heavily influenced by Neo-Baroque. Its construction faced a number of challenges. One was the discovery of an underground lake during construction. (Presently, the small lake still exists under the opera building).It took eight months to pump out the water. Also, the Franco-Prussian War took place. Thus, there was a halt in construction. Several more events came in between the construction of the opera, forcing the construction to happen a little at a time. Instead of the estimated 7 years it was planned to be finished, it instead took a total of 13 years to complete.
In relation to the before mentioned river, If you’re familiar with the novel “The Phantom of The Opera” by Paul Leroux, then you might be interested to know that the river below the Palais Garnier was the hiding place of the ‘Phantom’ in the novel. It is said that Leroux was so moved by the opera’s beauty, he asked permission to venture into the building alone, even to the parts that were not open to the public. In 1896, one of the counterweights from the chandelier fell from the ceiling, killing someone from the audience. This, along with Leroux’s knowledge and love for the building, inspired him to write his famous novel.
The Neo-baroque style wonderfully fitted the interiors. This was a pleasant surprise for me since I was never really a fan of any ‘baroque style’ because it seemed too over-the-top and cramped. Seeing the interiors of the Paris Opera—the way the Neo-baroque style was integrated with every aspect of the interiors—it was clean and appropriate. Even if it seemed like there were so many decorations, the décors only added to the places’ feel of high class.the opera’s beauty, he asked permission to venture into the building alone, even to the parts that were not open to the public. In 1896, one of the counterweights from the chandelier fell from the ceiling, killing someone from the audience. This, along with Leroux’s knowledge and love for the building, inspired him to write his famous novel.
The Palais Garnier is one of the largest opera house in the world (although it could only house at most 2,200 people). The inside immediately radiates Neo-Baroque. It is made up of many corridors, stairwells, alcoves and elevated landings. It took nearly 100 sculptors, painters, and stucco experts to complete all of the artworks inside. Most of the statues found both outside and inside the opera portrayed Greek deities. The colors dominant throughout the whole opera is that of gold and red—only adding to its exuberance. Garnier had purposely chosen such a color scheme (instead of the traditional pink and blue) to flatter the women’s complexions and emphasize their outfits and jewelry. Garnier was determined to make everyone who entered the opera to feel as If they were actors themselves.
To end this on a light note, there was an anecdote about the inauguration of the Palais Garnier. A building’s beauty is due to its architect. Therefore, the greatness of the Palais Garnier could be attributed to its architect, Garnier. But Garnier almost missed the inauguration of the opera….because he was forgotten in the guest list (Architects weren’t really held with high esteem during that time). Instead of being insulted, He brought tickets for his wife and himself, obviously showing no hard feelings.
Annazeth Nuque || 2009-16433