Sunday, September 03, 2006

Opéra de la Bastille

Place de la Bastille, 75012
Tel.Information (1) 44 73 13 99
Tel Reservations: (1) 44 73 13 00
Métro stop: Bastille.

L'Opéra de la Bastille (Bastille Opera) is a modern opera house in Paris, France. It is the home base of the Opéra National de Paris and was supposed to replace the Palais Garnier. Operas are still given in that house, which is also used for ballet performances.

In 1968 the idea for a new opera house in Paris first came from the composer Pierre Boulez along with Jean Vilar, a believer in the need for popular theatre, and Maurice Béjart . Their report inspired François Mitterrand, the former French president, to sponsor a competition to build a new house. He wanted it to become a "modern and popular" place in order to share classical music with the masses.

Located in the Place de la Bastille, in the 12th arrondissement, the house was designed with 2723 seats, every one of which has an unrestricted view of the stage. The theatre, described by Thierry Beauvert in Opera Houses of the World was "surmounted by the opaque cube of the stage building and wrapped in gridded walls of glass...... the Opera stands sociably open to the world outside, whereas the foyers, with their broad overview of the city, have the slick, impersonal look of an airport lounge". However, he goes to describe its backstage facilities as being extremely modern, allowing for nine times the volume of the stage and the ability to roll entire sets off and on intact. However, compared to other world-class opera houses, the acoustics have been described as disappointing at best.

Construction began in 1984 with the demolition of Paris Bastille train station, which was opened in 1859 and closed on December 14, 1969, and where art expositions were held thereafter until its demolition. The building was inaugurated on July 13, 1989, on the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, with a gala concert conducted by Georges Prêtre and featuring singers such as Teresa Berganza and Plácido Domingo. However, it did not see its first opera performance until March 17, 1990 , with Berlioz's Les Troyens.


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