Opéra ôpārä´ [key] (Académie de musique), former chief opera house of Paris, on the Place de l'Opéra, one of the main crossroads on the right bank of the Seine. Designed by J. L. C. Garnier and also called the Palais Garnier, it was built between 1861 and 1875. One of the largest and most sumptuous theaters in the world, it has a smaller seating capacity than many lesser houses, because its huge stage and foyers and its famous grand staircase take up much of the room. On the polychromed facade of the Opéra is the masterwork of the sculptor J.-B. Carpeaux entitled The Dance. An opulently ornamented neo-baroque style building, the Paris Opéra has been copied, on a reduced scale, by many opera houses throughout the world.

The home of grand opera in the 19th cent., it has retained its musical reputation as one of the world's foremost houses. Its corps de ballet is particularly famous. The Paris Opéra moved to the large, newly constructed Bastille opera house in 1990. The old Opéra building, used mainly for ballet performances for a few years, has been undergoing refurbishment and restoration since the mid-1990s, and both theaters now present opera and ballet.

See M. Kahane, The Paris Opera (1988); S. Pitou, The Paris Opera: An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers (1984) and The Paris Opera (1990); C. C. Mead, Charles Garnier's Paris Opera: Architectural Empathy and the Renaissance of French Classicism (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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