Friday, January 27, 2012

Paris Opera - Palais Garnier

On Monday I posted a card of the Hippodrome in New York. Then I saw that this week's Sepia Saturday theme is theaters (or theatres, depending on where you live.) So, I decided to post a couple more, including the Frankfurt Opera house and La Scala. I will have additional theater-related posts over the next few weeks, but I'll intersperse them with others, because I know some of you have already had enough of opera and theaters. But today, we're off to Paris.

The Palais Garnier certainly dominates the focus of the Place de l'Opéra. The building housed the Paris Opera from 1875 until 1989, when the new larger Opéra Bastille was built. The Palais Garnier is now primarily used for ballet performances. I have visited the building and the Paris Opera Library-Museum, but I have never been to a performance there. I did see a performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at the Opéra Bastille in 2007, which was roundly booed by the audience, in part because of the modern reinterpretation and the spare set with its glaring gold backdrop.

Here's the Palais Garnier at the turn of the century. The card is embellished with lots of glitter, which unfortunately doesn't show up well on the scan.

And another view from decades later.

Here's the back of the first card, sent in 1906 to Cherry Morgan, staying at the Mount Hotel in Scarborough, England. The message reads:

Dear Cherry
We have put across the Channel. Some of the Channel was on ___of us Rough. Paris is very gay - hope you and your Ma are enjoying yourselves. Send love.
E.M. Costaline (?)

This is a post for Sepia Saturday, which is as entertaining as any theater. Click the box below to be transported.


  1. What an excellent idea too. I especially enjoy seeing the lively crowds just appreciating life.

  2. Love the postcard with the vintage cars, really stylish!

  3. Such a beautiful building - glitter or no glitter!

  4. The grandiose Beaux-Arts glamor, decor and plan of the Paris Opera made it the poster child of all that was wrong with design, according to the proponents of modern architecture in the late 19th/early 20th century. The famed Swiss/French modern architect Le Corbusier would have loved to tear it down- in fact, he proposed to tear the entire center of Paris down and replace it with the 'towers in the park' concept that became the model for urban planning/renewal which, along with interstate highways, destroyed cities across the US from the 1950's thru 70's.
    For a fascinating look at the 'guts' of the Opera, and to get an idea of the huge area of building that is devoted to 'back of house' functions, be sure to check out the jumbo cross-section model at the Musee d'Orsay if you in Paris.

  5. Wow, that's a really awesome postcard. I love the picture of the Opera later on; the cars, the streetcars, the ornate architecture.

  6. I love the contrasting street scenes, while happily the opera house remains.
    I think the illegible word on the postcard message is 'top', as in "some of the channel was on top of us". Eek glad I wasn't on that crossing.

  7. Striking photos....Recently I read McCullough's "Greater Journey" about the time American artists and the like spent in Paris in the late 1800-1900 so this was reminding to me. Such splendor!

  8. I think some of the channel was on top of them. Does anyone else think the inkblot looks like the head and shoulders of a man?

  9. How peaceful the first scene looks, compared to the second...

  10. I love anything Parisian- lovely!

  11. What a building, far better than the monstrosities we put up today. The contrast between the two street scenes shows how things progressed in a few years.

  12. They wouldn't want to be crossing this weekend either but they obviously soldiered on through better than I would have.

  13. That is a beautiful building; I would love to see a performance there. I always think it’s rude when audiences boo.

  14. The first scene looks rather busy too with all the carriages. If the camera was as far back as the second it would probably be just as busy, in a horsey sort of way.

    I guess people are trying to be rude if they boo though.

  15. I drove by it once, but I've never been inside the building. I guess its interieur is beautiful as well.

  16. Thank you so much for this trip to the Theatre d l'Opera. The postcards and photos are superb. I was there once (years ago) and it was simply breathtaking. Too bad the gold glitter doesn't translate.

    Oh yeah, one other thing: By any chance, when you were there, did you visit Box 5? ☼

  17. Ooh la la, the Paris Opera house is very grand! Just beautiful and look at the carriages - this is a lovely postcard, just takes you right back in time and makes you wish you were there. Love the second follow up view with the old cars and buses...... oh yes, gay Paris. I've never been to Paris, but now I wish I had.

  18. Paris is very gay, not that there is anything wrong with that.

  19. Since I'll be going to the opera next weekend, sort of...
    One could never get enough opera!!!
    Some modern piece,
    inspired by something out of the 18th century...
    I live in Montreal and expect this to be tastefully done.
    Maybe even a masterpiece!! Even from a Gay perspective!!
    Wish me luck!!

  20. The first postcard must be super beautiful, with all the glitter and tinted colors. I really enjoy seeing all of the old cars in the second one though. How cool that you have been to the area and in some of those great old buildings. Thanks so much for the tour!

    Kathy M.

  21. Amazing how ornamentation on buildings can be taken to such an extreme, that it offends the sensibilities of the people of its time and yet somehow impresses people of later generations. I stayed near the Palais Garnier a few years ago and it is more immense than any postcard can show.



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