Everyone (or nearly everyone) know the Paris opera house, also known as the Opéra Garnier (which we visited for you one evening after the place was closed to the public – and it was pretty magical), but the nearby Opéra Comique isn’t half as well-know, despite being in a splendid building (recently renovated) and offering a great programme of musical treats…
The Opéra Comique has been at its current location for quite a while, since 1783 in fact, although the current building is its third incarnation and dates from 1898.
The venue saw quite a few changes during the 20th century – it was managed by the Opéra Garnier in the 1930s before eventually closing and being reused for training in the 1970s. It was only in the 1990s that it once again became a theatre, specialising in operettas.
The building is a listed historical monument since 1977, with a wide variety of musical presentations on offer, from baroque to contemporary, and after reading that the building had recently been renovated, we decided it was time to go down. 😜
Although the building appears a little petite for a major Paris theatre, the architecture is impressive, with sculpted stone, carved wood and gold leaf – and that’s just the façade.
Once inside, it almost looks like a scale model of the actual opera house, with statues, liberal use of marble and two majestic staircases, one on each side, leading upstairs with huge painted ceilings and walls.
Before going up though, we have a quick look at the salle Bizet on the ground floor which can be privatised for cocktail parties, presentations or other events. Certain small-scale shows and events are also presented here.
Taking the Marivaux staircase (to the left) or Favart staircase (to the right) brings you to the avant-foyer with its incredible chandeliers, beautiful mosaics on the floors and paintings representing music, acting, singing…
And from here you can easily access the grand foyer, a long, jaw-dropping room with a vast high ceiling covered in paintings and gold leaf (as are the walls), high windows and small rotundas at each extremity.
It’s really something.
Other marvels await. In the corridors that curve round the auditorium, the intricate mosaics are perfectly preserved and different on each floor.
And we end our visit with a visit of the auditorium, with its 1,100 red velvet seats on five different levels. Although smaller than the Opera Garnier, the space feels very similar, with a huge painting on the ceiling around the giant candelabra, gold leaf and little sculpted details wherever you look.
Also, the view from the gods is enough to make anyone dizzy…
The hour-long tour only costs 10€ / 5€ per person, during which you’ll be able to leanr more about the history of the place while being shown all the main spaces open to the public. Groups are no bigger than 25 people, and if you’d like to book, click here!