Exhibition at the Palais Garnier “Le grand opéra, 1828-1867. Le spectacle de l’Histoire”

The Opéra national de Paris is as usual in at the top of the list of the best Opera Houses in the World with new productions and revivals most appreciated by music lovers every evening. This season is particularly intense because in parallel with the perfomances, other important events take place as part of the celebrations of the 350 anniversary of the great French institution. After the exhibition on Operas costumes at the CNCS Moulins, or the Degas Opera Exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Palais Garnier now host “ Le grand opéra, 1828-1867. Le spectacle de l’Histoire ». From October 24, 2019 to February 2, 2020, in the Library-Museum of the Opera spaces, a great number of documents evoking the Salle Le Peletier, the sumptuous Palais Garnier and the Opera genre that ruled during all the nineteenth century are exhibited.

The Curators of the exhibition (Romain Feist from the National Library of France and Marion Mirande from the Paris National Opera) opted for a chronological presentation. The great composers like Auber, Meyerbeer and Halévy are exposed but also their works, from La Muette de Portici through Verdi’s Don Carlos to Wagner’s Tannhäuser, which mark the decline of the great French opera.



The exhibition is certainly small but it is really exciting because the opera lover from Paris and overseas will discover a genre that Parisians themselves hardly know, paradoxically. Opera lovers knows titles like Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, L’Africaine, Robert le Diable or Le Prophète de, Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, Verdi’s Les Vêpres siciliennes, Halévy’s La Juive but the chance he has to attend a performance is pretty small especially in Prais where these operas has been premiered. And what about Daniel-François-Esprit Auber’s operas almost vanished from all season programme?

The financial risk is still important therefor few directors of the Paris Opera hardly dare to present a new production of the masterpieces that built the glory of the Paris Opera. However, nowaday singers such as Michael Spyres, Annick Massis or Karine Deshayes and Veronique Gens can undoubtedly do justice to the scores previously defended by Adolphe Nourrit, Gilbert Duprez, Julie Dorus-Gras, Cornelie Falcon and Pauline Viardot without mentioning the ballet stars like Marie Taglioni. The curious music lovers will rush to visit this exhibition before visiting other venues (such as the Opéra Comique, the Deutsche Oper of Berlin where a Meyerbeer cycle is still on, the Royal Theater of La Monnaie of Brussels) or pray to attend a performance of Meyerbeer’s Robert the Devil at the Opéra national de Paris.


Photos : Laurent Julliand