Completed in 1875 by architect Charles Garnier, Opera Garnier is Europe’s largest opera houses. It is the setting for Gaston Leyroux’s Phantom of the Opera, a famous play which is now also the longest-running show on Broadway.
The play was inspired by the death of a construction worker, killed by a falling counterweight for the grand chandelier which fell through the ceiling. This was dramatised by Leyroux, to be that the whole seven-tonne chandelier fell on an audience member during an opera.
Other elements of the play can be found throughout the building. Indeed, there is a body of water underneath the opera, but it isn’t a lake or swamp that has entrances connected throughout Paris, as it is in the play. It’s a water tank, built to contain the mysterious body of water that sprang up during construction, however, today it only has one small entrance which French firefighters use so that they can enter the tank and practice swimming in the dark.
The stunning bronze and crystal chandelier cost 30,000 francs. I wonder if opera patrons feel a little uneasy sitting underneath it after reading Phantom of the Opera? As part of the Mysteries of the Opera tour, we visited the private boxes, owned by wealthy Parisian families. The boxes not only had booths with perfect views of the stage, but also private rooms at the back, perfect for bringing a mistress to. The grand hall, filled with chandeliers is reminiscent of Versaille’s Hall of Mirrors, but is even more spectacular. I also loved the small rooms with the stars and the sun emblazoned on the ceiling.
What’s the most extravagant place you’ve ever been?
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