Opéra National de Paris – what makes it a famous opera house in Paris?

admin July 25, 2019

Reviewing the history of Opera National de Paris

opera house in Paris

Before Palais Garnier opened its doors to public, Rue Le Peletier designed by François Debret played home to the Paris Opera. From 1821 to 1873, it served as a theatre. But after Napoleon III survived Orsini’s attempt to assassinate him in the Rue Le Peletier on January 14, 1858 when he was going the theatre, the Emperor decided to get a new opera built, which would have a more secure and separate entrance for him.

An international contest was launched in which 171 applicants competed. Charles Garnier emerged as the winner. He was a young French architect, who wasn’t a known name at that time. The design he proposed tried to remedy what he considered a critical problem for artists of that time - the impracticality of having room for large audiences.

Construction of this famous opera house in Paris began in 1861 on a location recommended by Baron Haussmann with the Emperor laying the first stone in 1862. Opera National de Paris took almost 15 years (1861-1875) to be completed. Due to the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), construction of this opera house in Paris was stalled. After a huge fire burnt down Rue Le Peletier, the government called back Charles Garnier to complete the edifice. On January 5, 1875, the whole complex was inaugurated but since Napoleon III had died two years ago, he never got to see the outstanding National de Paris Opera, which he had commissioned.

In 1887, gas lighting made its way for electric lighting inside Palais Garnier.


Call to action:

What more would you like to add about Palais Garnier? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below. You can reach out to me through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to take the conversation forward. To read a story based in Paris, make sure to check out my book Catacombs of Hell.



Pierre. “Palais Garnier, Paris.” French moments, July 19. https://frenchmoments.eu/palais-garnier-paris/

Opéra national de Paris. “The Paris Opera - History.” Accessed April 12, 2019. https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/artists/discover/the-paris-opera/history

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Mary A. Lonergan

Mary A. Lonergan is a retired aesthetician. Being hearing impaired, she is a member of the Canadian Hearing So . . .

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