Bastille Opera

Bastille Opera (73)

The Bastille National Opera of Paris was officially opened on the 14th of July 1989, coinciding with the bicentenary of the storming of the Bastille, the event that sparked off the French Revolution. 

Like other Parisian buildings, it had to put up with much criticism for its avant-garde design. It breaks completely with the aesthetics and design of the classical opera houses, the maximum exponent of which in Paris is the Opera Garnier.

The work was promoted by President Mitterrand, who wanted to popularise opera among the public. Thus, the decision to build an opera house in this part of Paris far from the cliquey atmosphere of the elegant districts has great symbolic content, just like the date of its official opening.

It was in March 1982 when the decision was taken to build a new opera house in Paris and in July of the same year an international tender was put out which received 756 bidding projects. 

In 1983 the winning bid was declared as being the project presented by the Canadian-Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott and a year later work began on the site. The first opera to be performed was “The Trojans” by Hector Berlioz.

The Bastille National Opera is an imposing glass structure, of modern design and curved lines. The transparency, the white, contrasts with the dark elements such as the portico at the entrance made in dark marble or the upholstered seats, also in a dark colour. The main auditorium has a capacity for 2,700 spectators. Among the construction materials, the blue granite from Great Britain, the opera tree wood from China and white marble from Verona all dominate.

The building is a prodigy of technique at the service of the arts. Among its peculiarities are the orchestra pit, which can house up to 130 musicians, and is modular and can be covered; the main stage is 45 m high, 30 m Wide and 25 m deep, which with its 9 service lifts can create several levels. 

But above all, what really makes it stand out is the transparency of its façades and roof, its geometric forms and its surface free of all ornamentation, and that its charm is appreciated above all when night falls, when the glass reflects the lights. 

It is a very busy opera house, with performances and educational programmes for children and young people. Find out at the box office if you can make any guided visit of the interior.

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