Palais Garnier

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Capuchin Room, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier.

The theater is also often referred to as the Opera Garnier and historically known to the Paris Opera or simply the Opera, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989 when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Opera Paris now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

The Palais Garnier has been called “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacred Heart Basilica.” This is at least partly due to its choice for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the subsequent novel adaptations in movies and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular 1986 musical.

Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.” This opinion is far from unanimous, however: the 20th-century French architect Le Corbusier once described it as “a dying art” and contended.

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