the travels & travails of an escaped lab rat

Paris: Palais Garnier

If you wanted to see the quintessential Beaux-Arts-style building in Paris and had only time to visit one structure, it would be — without question — the Palais Garnier (officially, the Académie Nationale de Musique – Théâtre de l’Opéra, but also known colloquially as Opéra de Paris or Opéra Garnier).

Completed by designer Charles Garnier in 1874, it is (quite accurately) regarded as one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of its time.

It is a 2,200-seat opera house and has seen constant use as a venue for opera and ballet performance since its inauguration in 1875. And despite the  National Opera Company’s decision to relocate and choose L’Opéra de la Bastille as their principal theatre when it was completed in 1989, the Palais Garnier still remains a relevant and vibrant part of the arts culture in Paris.

As a point of trivia: One of the counterweights for the grand chandelier fell in 1896, killing one person. This, combined with the underground lake, Gothic cellars, and other mythologicalized elements of the opera house, inspired Gaston Leroux to write his classic, The Phantom of the Opera, in 1909.

I’ve actually heard some of my Parisian collegues refer to this as “the Wedding Cake”.

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Posted in Places by madsci on March 18th, 2010 at 4:20 pm.

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