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The Many Names of the Old Paris Opera

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i noticed while thumbing through my book of beaumont's book of ballets that the old PARIS OPERA - the THEATRE DE L'ACADEMIE ROYALE DE MUSIQUE, which burned down in 1873, was known under many names during its history, and most of these titles changed in only a short period of time.

does anyone know the history of this theatre, who built it, and what theatre it replaced?

it was known under many names - THEATRE DE L'ACADEMIE IMPERIALE DE MUSIQUE, THEATRE DE L'OPERA, and so on.

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the reu pelletier th. was replaced by the palais garnier.

the best source to seek out is ivor guests many books about the paris opera ballet history. these are often in english, exept his one-vol. paris op. history which is now only in french, to the best of my knowledge.

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Interesting question, since the "Opera" has connotatations of both an institution and only secondarily as a particular building. Briefly skimming Ivor Guest's short but fascinating summary of his multi-volume work, The Paris Opera Ballet, I found that the Opera had a number of homes --

1661: formation of an Academie Royale de Danse: "the first overt expression of royal concern for the standards of dance teaching."

1669: formation of an Academie d'Opera: "This second royal initiative was to bring aobut the transference of the hybrid form of spectable that then went under the name of ballet from the court to the wider arena of the public stage. It was also to establish theatrical dancing as a profession in its own right."

1669: Pierre Perrin authorized to form an Academie d'Opera en Musique et Verbe Francais, receiving a virtual monopoly for a period of 12 years." The composer Lully purchased this privilege from Perrin.

1672: Lully authorized to establish an Academie Royale de Musique." First production ("Les Fetes de l"Amour et de Bacchus") was in a converted tennis court in the rue de Vaugirard (the only Right Bank location the Opera had). A few months later Lully took over Moliere's old theater in the Palais Royal. "The Opera under Lully had been a private and self-supporting enterprise, enjoying a royal monopoly but receiving no subsidy. After Lully's death it passed into the hands of his son-in-law Nicolas de Francine, who directed it with associates until 1714." This, apparently, is where Camargo and Vestris danced.

1764: Opera temporarily moved to the Salle des Machines in the Tuilieries Palace (next to the Louvre). This is the period of Noverre.

1770: Moves back to the Palais Royal in a spacious new theater. This is the period of Vestris.

1781: Palais Royal theater burned to ground. a provisional theater built on the Blvd. de la Porte-St.-Martin opens the same year. (Marie Antoinette: "I will give you until October 31.") The period of the Gardels begins here.

1794: Opera moves to new theater in the rue de la Loi, opposite the Bibliotheque Nationale (" by order of the Committee of Public Safety"). This is the Opera of the Revolution, the Directory, and the period of Napoleon.

1820: the duc de Berry, nephew of the restored Bourbon king, was assassinated while leaving the theater, and the Archbishop of Paris "made it a condition of administering the Last Sacrament that the building would never again serve as a place of public entertainment." The company moves to a new hastily erected building in the rue de Le Peletier. Although this was supposed to be temporary, it housed the opera until replaced by the Palais Garnier. It burned in 1873 before the Palais Garnier was completed. PG opened early in 1875.

The le Peletier theater is where the Romantic ballets, including Giselle, were performed and where Taglioni, Elssler, Grisi, Cerrito, etc., danced. It was the location of yet another assassination attempt -- this one in 1858 against Napoleon III. (What is it about theaters and assassinations?). Several bombs were thrown at the carriage of the Emperor and Empress, but they survived, entered the auditorium, and were greeted with an enormous ovation. History, and the wealthy upper-class crowd at the Opera, tended to forget the many dead and wounded civilians and soldiers outside. The bombers were put on trial, not for killing ordinary people, but for attempting to kill the Emperor. Two were guillotined.

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