Sunday, June 1, 2008
L’Opéra de la Bastille
Photo courtesy of www.aviewoncities.com
Located in east-central Paris at the Place de la Bastille (12th arrondissement), this opera house boasts 2,723 seats, every one of which has an unrestricted view of the stage. And every seat bears the full brunt of the extremely poor acoustics. The best features of this homely structure (it would not go far on its looks alone) are backstage, which has nine times the volume of the stage and the ability to roll entire sets off and on intact.
Construction began in 1984 with the demolition of the Bastille train station (1859-1969), and the new opera house was inaugurated on July 13, 1989, the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, with a gala concert conducted by Georges Prêtre, featuring Teresa Berganza and Plácido Domingo. However, it did not see its first opera performance until March 17, 1990, with Berlioz’ Les Troyens.
The Opéra de la Bastille was intended to replace the Palais Garnier (see related post), but that has not happened. Smaller scale operas and ballets are still staged at the Palais Garnier, a beloved structure that Paris and the world are loathe to relinquish.