Designed by Charles Garnier, the 1,979 seat opera house opened with a lavish gala performance on January 5, 1875.
Excerpts from Daily Graphic, New York, September, September 19, 1874:
”The great pile occupies an entire square, as large as that occupied by our new public buildings. Its main front, indeed, all its fronts, constitute a variety of architecture and statuary beyond description: Inside all these wonders increase.
The space allotted to the stage, the dressing rooms, rooms or studios for the artists, reception rooms, machine rooms, machine shops, with the endless devices for scenery, seem to be more than half the entire area; and as you gaze into this mysterious combination, the auditorium looks comparatively small, even with its tier after tier of boxes and its sweeping corridors
Some idea of this immense edifice may be gathered from the size of the saloon, or foyer, a rectangular hall over 160 feet long and forty feet high. It is lighted by day by five windows looking into the boulevard, and in the night by a bewildering array of chandeliers.”
“The panels they were to fill, the spaces for the mirrors, the lofty and wide spreading ceilings, the walls, the very floors, conveyed an idea of vastness, heightened by the gorgeous decorations in bronzes and gold, in mosaic and fresco, in marble and other products of French and foreign quarries. I forbear an estimate of what this palace of music will accommodate or what it costs, but its acoustic capacity seems to have passed judgement.”
“Work on it was arrested, of course, during the siege and the Commune, and it was several times in danger, but the present Government has given it an immense appropriation to finish it by January.”
The Daily Courier, Onondaga, New York, November 19, 1874:
“The chandelier for the middle of the Paris Opera House will be a marvel in its way. It will cost $8,000.”
Excerpts from the Deaf Mutes’ Journal, April 29, 1875:
“The French government proposes to establish a school of mosaic decorations at Serves. Such a school was actually established by Napoleon I, with the object not only of naturalizing a beautiful and useful art in France, but also of assisting an unfortunate class, the workmen employed being all deaf and dumb. But since 1830 nothing has been heard of it.”
“The fact that one of the most intersting and original conceptions of the architect of the Paris Opera-house was executed by Italian artists has been the means of reviving this plan for a school of mosaic decorations. The original idea will be carried out so far that pupils showing a taste for the art, will first be sought at the Deaf and Dumb Institution.”
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Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society .
He is currently available for theatre walks and talks in 2013.