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Inside the Paris Opera part 2 – The Theater

Paris Opera House Theater

What an exciting experience to walk into this class theater. You can’t help but stay quiet, even if there’s no performance going on. Everything is so classically beautiful, from the chairs to the balconies to the chandelier. I can see why the Phantom of the Opera staked his claim here.

A bit of history

The Opéra de Paris is the primary opera and ballet company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéra. [read more…]

The ceiling fresco

Like many people who enter for the first time, you allow your eyes to drink in all the luscious waves of splendor. As you work your way up, your gaze at something unexpected. A decidedly more modern painting surrounds the opulent chandelier that hangs from the center of the ceiling. It seems out of place, but it’s fun and lively. I honestly didn’t know what I thought of it. As a painting, it’s beautiful. But I found myself questioning whether or not it belonged here. And then I thought…it’s art! This is a theater. The contrast is definitely something that continues to provoke thoughts and opinions.

More than a ceiling: a lush, monumental work

“The ceiling of the Opéra Garnier was completely renovated and re-imagined in 1964 at the urging of Minister of Culture André Malraux. The talented Marc Chagall was entrusted with painting 2,400 square feet of frescoes. The opera’s new ceiling was widely decried and contested when it was unveiled to the public on September 23, 1964, and the work at this iconic Paris opera house continues to elicit curiosity and stir passions.
It took Chagall a year to successfully complete this imposing work, which can be interpreted as an encapsulation of the artist’s personality. The ceiling of the Opéra Garnier stands out for its luminous colors and myriad details. When you take a closer look, you can see discern winged characters, quintessential Parisian buildings and monuments like the Arc de Triomphe, and musical instruments. If you are especially keen-eyed, you may find Chagall himself or André Malraux, who commissioned this monumental fresco.
The ceiling of the Opéra Garnier pays homage to 14 major composers of opera and lyrical music, as well as their oeuvres. Marc Chagall, assisted by Roland Bierge, Paul Versteeg and Jules Paschal, found his way into the history of art in Paris. The feat is even more impressive in light of his advanced age: he was 77 years old when the ceiling at the Opéra Garnier was painted. In addition, the gesture was an unselfish offering as Chagall, inspired by the scale of the task and the mark it would leave on the world, declined to be paid a salary for the work!” [read more…]

The Theater

Chagall’s Frescoes