The Phantoms of the Opera

As we are living next door, we thought it would be respectful to call on our neighbor, the Paris Opera House, and see if we could get a tour.

The Palais Garnier, completed in 1875 and known by the name of its architect, is probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. The world knows the book, the films and the musical, of course. And, as life can imitate art, the famous Phantom is still accommodated here in his private box.

Besides being the most expensive building of the Second Empire, it has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.” This opinion is far from unanimous: Le Corbusier was an outspoken critic. Oh, well. You can’t please everyone.

Yes, it is deliciously over the top, Garnier having accommodated every architectural style that he could squeeze in. But it must have done its main job quite perfectly – that of showcasing the people who showed their culture and affluence by populating it. What a glorious setting for what even Garnier called “the human comedy,” which took place before the curtain rose.

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