Facades, sculptures and outdoor settings, Palais Garnier

The opera was constructed in what Charles Garnier (1825-1898) is said to have told the Empress Eugenie was “Napoleon III” style The Napoleon III style was highly eclectic, and borrowed from many historical sources; the opera house included elements from the Baroque, the classicism of Palladio, and Renaissance architecture blended together. These were combined with axial symmetry and modern techniques and materials, including the use of an iron framework, which had been pioneered in other Napoleon III buildings, including the Bibliotheque Nationale and the markets of Les Halles.

The façade and the interior followed the Napoleon III style principle of leaving no space without decoration. Garnier used polychromy, or a variety of colors, for theatrical effect, achieved different varieties of marble and stone, porphyry, and gilded bronze. The façade of the Opera used seventeen different kinds of material, arranged in very elaborate multicolored marble friezes, columns, and lavish statuary, many of which portray deities of Greek mythology.

South Main Frontage
The large facade, overlooking the Place de l’Opera and located at the crossroads of many Haussmannian breakthroughs, serves as a backdrop to the perspective of the avenue that will open a little later. It is, in a way, the manifesto of the artist. Its skilful layout and proportions, as well as its rich polychromy, express in a skilful synthesis the essence of eclectic architecture.

Garnier himself chose the fourteen painters, the mosaicists and the seventy-three sculptors, including the famous Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, to participate in his ornamentation.

The four main groups on the front are from left to right:

The poetry of François Jouffroy (with his palms);
The instrumental music of Eugène Guillaume (with his musical instruments);
The Dance of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, whose naked characters provoked the ire of the Puritans (a stranger went so far as to throw an inkwell on the artist’s masterpiece on the night of the 26th. August 27, 1869);
The lyric drama of Jean-Joseph Perraud (with his agonizing victim).

The steps and the covered gallery with arcades and cupolas flat on pendants supporting the loggia form the starting point, from the south main entrance, of an initiatory journey whose culmination is none other than the great hall and the show which sticks to it. Garnier designed the succession of spaces for the sole purpose of conditioning the future spectators. So the first steps, located outside the monument, already mark the border between two worlds; the first, that of reality and everyday life, the second, that of dreams and the imaginary. The various statues that frame the entrances are dominated by medallions carved by Charles Gumery. These medallions represent composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Cimarosa, Joseph Haydn and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi.

The loggia, underlined by the portico of the first floor, is an extension of the large foyer overlooking the Place de l’Opera. Little used, it is however essential to the balance of the plan as that of the frontal and lateral elevations. This loggia is directly inspired the masters of the Italian Renaissance such Vignola, Serlio and Palladio, those of classicism of the xvii th and xviii th century French as Claude Perrault, Jules Hardouin-Mansardor Ange-Jacques Gabriel. As for the taste for polychromy, it is an expression of fashion launched by research archaeological of the Great Rome Prize of the xix th century for their “shipments” of the Villa Medici, members of the Academy of Fine -arts. The loggia is dominated by busts made by Louis-Félix Chabaud representing composers Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, Ludwig van Beethoven, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gaspare Spontini, Philippe Quinault, Gioachino Rossini and Fromental Halévy.

West Side elevation (Garden Side)
This elevation is visible from Auber and Scribe streets as well as from Place Charles-Garnier.

The entrance is indicated by a series of green marble columns, two of which are surmounted by a large bronze imperial eagle, a symbol miraculously preserved after the Second Empire. The entrance is intended for Napoleon III and his family. The double ramp must be able to ensure a secure and sheltered passage of the weather by allowing the cabs to stop inside the pavilion of the Emperor. Critics are particularly bitter about the shape and layout of this access from the future Place Charles Garnier. The architect is judged to be a courtier rather than a rigorous designer. For its detractors, the design of this ramp contrasts too brutally with the other components of the general plan. The work is a sprain to the rigor of the composition and the most basic good taste.

Because of the events of 1870, this part flanking the west facade of the Opera House was never completed: still to this day, several stones of equipment not épannelées testifying of the abrupt interruption of the building site. Designed to allow Napoleon III and his suite to penetrate directly into the building and thus limit the risk of aggression, the flag of the Emperor communicates directly with a front box on the garden side. It is ultimately the Presidents of the Republic who have the use of this ingenious distribution ensuring security and discretion. This component of the composition is also referred to as the “Head of State’s Pavilion”.

These salons, having therefore not had time to serve the monarch, are then chosen to host the library-museum of the Opera (BMO) now housing many books and objects.

Nearly 600,000 documents, including 100,000 books, 1,680 titles of periodicals and various printed materials, 16,000 scores, 30,000 booklets, 10,000 programs, 10,000 documentary files, 250,000 autograph letters, 11,000 orchestral materials, 100 000 photographs, 30,000 prints with some 25,000 sketches of costumes and sets, seventy linear meters of drawings, one hundred linear meters of posters and 3,000 archivesincluding 2,378 administrative registers, created for the numerous mounted shows, operas or ballets, and acquisitions made over time are gathered, with prestigious handwritten autographed manuscripts preserved: The Surprises of Love (Prologue: “The Return of Astrea”) of Rameau, Armide of Gluck, Ermione de Rossini, Tannhäuser (autographed fragments for the “Paris version”) of Wagner, Cinderella de Massenet, Louise de Charpentier, The Merchant of Veniceof Hahn, Dialogues of the Carmelites of Poulenc…

A museum collection brings together 8,500 objects including 2,500 models of sets, 3,000 works including 500 paintings, 3,000 stage jewelry. This rich collection, the oldest documents date back to the creation of the Royal Academy of Music by Louis XIV in 1669, is part of the Music Department of the National Library of France.

When the architect died in 1898, it was decided to erect a small monument to his memory and glory, which was inaugurated in 1903. It is installed at the foot of the rotunda of the Emperor and behind grids that protect access. We can discover a bust representing Charles Garnier accompanied, on each side, a female figure in foot also made in gilded bronze. This carved set is placed on a stone base supporting a large rectangular metal cartridge whose carving represents, in hollow and gilt to the sheet, the plane of the main level of the opera.

East Side Facade (Courtyard Side)
This elevation is visible from Halévy and Gluck streets as well as from Place Jacques Rouché.

The entrance is preceded, like that to the west, by a series of green marble columns. Only several female figures in foot, bronze torch holders, mark the difference with the opposite access.

Forming an exact pendant at the Emperor’s pavilion, the subscribers’ pavilion is opened by seven semicircular arcades giving access to the covered canopy, a vast rotunda covered with a cupola of 13.5 meters in diameter. Two pairs of obelisks mark the entrances of the rotunda to the north and south. This volume was originally designed to allow privileged access to the hitched cars of the customer base who rented lodges year-round, ensuring a very important and regular share of the funding of the Opera (there were for example subscribers two or three nights a week). This ground floor led directly to the rotunda of subscribers, and some other premises reserved for them. They could then pass the Pythia Basin to join the main staircase, like the rest of the public.

Garnier had considered setting up an upstairs restaurant in the Glacier Rotunda, but for budgetary reasons only a buffet was set up. In 1973 and again in 1992, two other projects were considered in the subscribers’ rotunda and the covered canopy descent, but remained without follow-up. In 2007, the director Gérard Mortier undertakes the installation of a restaurant at the level of the “covered descent” which was then used as a place of storage for the restoration work on the building. This is the fourth restaurant project, L’Opéra Restaurant, which June 27, 2011after five years of work. This ultra-modern project designed by the architect Odile Decq, received the favorable opinion of the National Commission for Historic Monuments on June 15, 2009. At the opening in June 2011, the card was composed by Christophe Aribert. Another kitchen appeared in January 2016 with Chihiro Yamazaki.

Front Rear
As in all island theaters, service entrances for artists, administration, technicians and staff are at the back. The ensemble is made up of three large and varied sections, one of which faces Diaghilev Square and Boulevard Haussmann, the other two articulating on the edge of the stage cage, east side on Gluck Street and west side. on Scribe Street, as far as the Emperor’s and Subscriber’s Pavilions, following the same entablature line. The premises house the offices, artists’ lodges and utilitarian spaces spread over eight levels with a multitude of windows, just as in the four inner courtyards.

This facade is naturally less decorated than the spectacular main facade. It also makes it possible to discover the north gable of the wall of the stage cage whose interior width of 52 meters makes it one of the largest in the world. The roofs of the five north-facing blocks present, in symmetrical arrangement, twenty stacks of chimneys (totaling 150 smoke pipes) whose coronations are adorned with strange allegorical masks. The pediment of the north wall of the stage cage incorporates a large arcade overhung in a key by a bust five meters high, lined with palms, that of Minerva. Like all around the stage cage, this north facade comprises from thirteenth to fourteenth floor, a row of grilled bull’s-eyes surmounting a series of barbacans at the fifth and sixth service gangways in the hangers. The central back-porch, on the front of which are the numerous windows of artists’ lodges, comprises, up to the seventh level, the large storied rooms formed by the Foyer des chœurs, on the ground floor, surmounted by the Foyer de la danse. above which is the central-costumes where the dresses of the spectacles in preparation are stored. At the same level, extensive clothing workshops for seamstresses and tailors. Two large inner courtyards are adjacent to the back wall of the stage. One of them is equipped.

The rear part of the building, facing north, is accessible by a large paved courtyard, open to the city, surrounded by a circular wall. It incorporates a monumental portal carved tympanum, and two other portals and two secondary doors made of ironwork. This yard allows the entry of trucks.

On the ground floor of the building several accesses: conciergeries, entry of artists, entry of administrative, technical, maintenance and security personnel.

The high entry door of the sets opens to an impressive lift that can accommodate decorative elements of twelve meters in length after crossing the first and second mezzanine to reach the first floor that of the stage. This decor is integrated in one of the two courtyards that run along the Foyer de la Danse and other large premises.

Light Belt
The exterior of the opera is surrounded by 60 different luminaires, which worked on gas until 1954. The set includes: lampposts, caryatids (day and night, depending on their position on the east and east side façades). west, sculpted by Louis-Félix Chabaud), the candelabra, the pyramidal columns in peach blossom marble, the rostral columns and the imperial columns in blue turquin marble. Some fixtures could not be made in bronze, as Charles Garnier wanted, so it is simply a copper cast iron that is the material.

Since 1990, some elements had been substantiated because of strong vibrations from underground (subway) and automobile traffic; stone pedestals have been changed and damaged balustrades have been completely restored, just like the imperial columns (whose marble comes from an Italian quarry reopened for the occasion). This restoration was financed by a large patronage organized by AROP, and celebrated the June 28, 2016.

Palais Garnier
The Opera Garnier, or Palace Garnier, is a national theater and lyrical choreography vocation and a major element of heritage 9 th arrondissement of Paris and the capital. It is located Place de l’Opera, at the north end of the Avenue de l’Opera and at the crossroads of many roads. It is accessible by metro (Opera station), by the RER (line A, Auber station) and by bus. The building stands out as a monument particularly representative of eclectic architectureand historicist style of the second half of the xix th century. On a conception of the architect Charles Garnier retained following a competition, its construction, decided by Napoleon III as part of the transformations of Paris conducted by the prefect Haussmann and interrupted by the war of 1870, was resumed at the beginning of the Third Republic, after the destruction by fire of the opera Le Peletier in 1873. The building is inaugurated on January 5, 1875by President MacMahon in the third Republic.

Designed by the architect Charles Garnier in 1875, the Palais Garnier houses a prestigious auditorium and public spaces (grand foyer, rotunda of subscribers, salons), a library-museum as well as several rehearsal studios and workshops.

The “Italian style” theater, whose ceiling was painted by Marc Chagall in 1964, can accommodate 2054 spectators. With nearly 480,000 visitors a year, it is one of the most visited monuments in Paris. It is classified as a historical monument since 1923.

This opera was called “Paris Opera” until 1989, when the opening of the Opera Bastille, also opera in Paris, influenced its name. It is now designated by the only name of its architect: “Opera Garnier” or “Palais Garnier”. The two operas are now grouped together in the public industrial and commercial establishment “Opéra national de Paris”, a French public institution whose mission is to implement the performance of lyric or ballet performances, of high quality. artistic. The opera Garnier has been classified as a historical monument since October 16, 1923.