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Salle Le Peletier

François Debret

alias Théâtre National de l'Opéra (1870–1873), Théâtre de l'Académie Nationale de Musique (1850–1852), Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique (1821–1848), Opéra-Théâtre de la Nation (1848–1850), Théâtre de l'Académie Impériale de Musique (1852–1854), Théâtre Impérial de l'Opéra (1854–1870)
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Important events

(detail)16.8.1821 | opening
Constructed to the desing by François Debret. Opemed with a mixed-bill that opened with the anthem "Vive Henry VIII", and included the composer Catel's opera Les Bayadères and the Ballet Master Gardel's ballet Le Retour de Zéphire.
(detail)29.10.1873 | fire

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History

 

"The front, which is one hundred and eighty feet in length by sixty-four in height, presents two perpendicular ranges of columns, forming nine arcades. The lower range, which is of the Doric order, forms wings. The upper range is Ionic, and supports an entablature with brackets bearing statues of the Muses, six feet and a half in height. In the intercolumniations are small Doric columns, upon which the arches of the arcades rest. The spandrils are decorated with figures in bas-relief bearing emblems of music. The two arcades at the extremities are without ornament; and thus the front has some resemblance to the portico of the cathedral of Vicenza, a production of the celebrated Palladio. The confined situation of the theatre prevents its being seen at a distance. Another inconvenience arising from this circumstance is the necessity of having an awning, beneath which carriages set down company, but which, although light and elegant, destroys the symmetry of the edifice.


The vestibule is one hundred and fifty feet in length by twenty-four in breadth, above which is the saloon, twenty-seven feet in height, and divided into three parts by open arcades. The central division is one hundred and thirty feet in length, and those of the extremities twenty-five feet each. It is decorated with columns of the Corinthian order, painted in imitation of marble, with gilt bases, flutings, and capitals. Opposite the arcades which form the windows are similar arcades with mirrors. The two small divisions of the saloon display statues of Thalia and Melpomene. The windows are hung with elegant curtains, and when lighted up by the nine rich lustres which adorn it, the saloon presents an imposing and magnificent appearance.


The first vestibule, called vestibule d'attente, leads to the vestibule d'echange, where tickets are procured. Upon each side of the latter is a staircase, ten feet in width, leading to the first row of boxes and the saloon. From the lobby two other stair-cases lead to the pit, the baignoires, and the orchestra. Between the latter and the lobbies of the stage-boxes are two wide staircases, which lead to the top of the building. At the conclusion of the representation, the communications between the staircases are closed by iron gates, in order to prevent confusion; and so numerous are the outlets, that the house may be entirely cleared in the space of five minutes.
 
Although under the necessity of using the decorations of the Th&itre des Arts, and particularly the columns and the dome, M. Debret has contrived to augment the dimensions and enrich the embellishments of the house. The eight columns are placed at the same distances as in the former theatre, but by making the form of the new house circular, a diameter is obtained of seventy feet, measured from the fronts of the boxes. To give greater splendour to the decoration, the architect has converted his Ionic columns into the Corinthian order. These, with the entablature, are now twenty-six feet high, and the total height of the house is sixty-three feet.
There is here an amphitheatre at the back of the pit; and boxes on the sides, but they are not latticed. The first tier of boxes is between the stylobata of the columns, and the second and third between the shafts. The fourth is above the entablature, and forms a spacious amphitheatre in front, above which, in the lunetta, is a fifth tier of boxes. The architect has not availed himself of the enlargement of the house to augment the number of places, but merely to render them more commodious.
The first tier of boxes is ornamented with bas-reliefs in gold upon a white ground. The three upper tiers represent carpets thrown over balconies, fastened with gold upon a blue ground. The interior of the boxes is blue.
The baignoires of the proscenium and the boxes in the shafts of the columns have been suppressed.
The same elliptical arches as at the Theatre des Arts, support the same dome. The scenes, the curtain, and the ornaments of the proscenium are likewise the same.
In the construction of this house, the rigid adherence to the laws of acoustics has been completely successful. It is free from echoes, sonorous, and in all respects favourable to music. Every precaution has been taken against fire. Above the stage are two spacious reservoirs for supplying water to pumps in a large vault beneath the proscenium. "

 

In:  Whittaker, G. B.: The History of Paris from the Earliest Period to the Present Day: Vol. II. London, 1825 p. 749 - 482

 

 

Author: G. B Whittaker

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