I toured Palais Garneir, also known as Opera de Paris, on my second visit to Paris. Opera de Paris is the one place my middle daughter HAD TO SEE. It is all she talked about in the months leading up to the trip. Her passion and desire to visit Palais Garneir began when she wrote a paper on its history, and only grew from there. I should also mention this is my theatre child, so it should not have come as a surprise that out of my three children, she was the one that wanted to visit.
Opera de Paris is gorgeous. I can think of no other words to describe the inside. This establishment opened its grand doors for the first time in 1875. I had thought it was much older, bu it is the opera company itself that goes back to the 1600's. This building was simply its home from 1875 through 1978. It now hosts the ballet and the opera has moved to a more modern building.
The theater portion seats around 2,200 people with a giant chandelier in the center. We were able to step inside what would be a private patron's box where we could look down on the seats and large stage below and view the chandelier up above. Additional research told me that the stage could accommodate up to 450 artists. That is one huge stage! At least to me. The stages I’m familiar with would get crowded with only 75 people.
The Grand Foyer rivals the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and my daughter and I will never come to an agreement on which is more beautiful. Of course, I still favor Versailles.
However, what this building is most famous for is the setting of The Phantom of the Opera." In 1896, one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier fell, killing one. This, as well as the underground lake, cellars, and other elements of the Opera House, inspired Gaston Leroux in 1909 to write his classic Gothic novel, The Phantom of the Opera."* We did not get to go below to see the underground lake but would have loved to. That would have been the icing on our cake.
It is also haunted, if you believe in such a thing. I skipped the opera house on my third visit to Paris, but my colleagues who were there insist on it’s paranormal activity. I didn’t feel any “presence” during my previous visits, but I wasn’t looking to encounter ghosts either. However, I was looking through photos that another parent took and I am convinced she captured a ghost, or the outline, or whatever you call it. I don’t look for ghosts in pictures or anywhere else for that matter. But she told me she kept having trouble taking a picture of these huge candelabra. Indeed, I saw a face and the outline of shoulders. Kind of gave me chills and then I pointed it out to her. Several people had pictures with floating lights, which is not unusual when taking pictures in such old places. The question is, are they ghosts?
By the way, following the tour I took with my daughter, she informed me that she plans on being married there. My thoughts were 1) I had better sell a lot, I mean a lot, of books; 2) we need to hit the lottery (guess one of us should start playing); or 3) it will only be her, her husband and the few people who can afford to travel. I really hope she doesn't have her heart set on this. I haven't asked her recently, fearful of her answer.
*Quoted from Wikipedia