The Opéra-Comique was founded in 1714, but the present building, often referred to as Salle Favart, is from 1898. Two preceding buildings – on the same spot - burnt down. The ownerships, the regimes… have changed many times, even as late as the latest decades. The theatre has mostly been run independently from the Opéra Garnier (and the new Opéra Bastille), but the Paris opera houses have for shorter periods been under common management. Today the Opéra-Comique is again independent.

The term “comique” has nothing to do with laughter, but the difference with “real opera” is that in the “comique” the spoken drama often is more important… with some music and singing interludes. However, today, when you look into the repertoire of the theatre, this difference seems to have disappeared. Perhaps the Opéra-Comique has a slightly more innovative repertoire.

It may be interesting to know that the premieres of some notable works as “La Damnation de Faust” (The Damnation of F.) by Berlioz, “Carmen” by Bizet, “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” (The Tales of H.) by Offenbach, “Lakmé” by Delibes… took place at the second Opéra Comique (1840-87) and that the present building has seen the premieres of several works by Debussy, Massenet, Ravel, Poulenc…

The present building, which thus opened in 1898 , is very richly decorated, as you can see from these pictures and the top picture from the lobby.  There are some 1.250 seats.



Mystica said...

The detailed inside is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Les Contes d'Hoffmann is the only "serious" opera written by that brilliant adopted son of la Belle France: Jacques Offenbach.

Édouard Manet immortalized him, along with his wife in his famous painting "Music in the Tuileries"

Here's a famous little song from that opera:


Great post, Peter. And the photos!
Thank you so much,

Many, many years ago, I was on stage when I listened to this song for the first time. Only 3 years old (and dressed up as a Poupée Lenci) and standing inside a box, on one of the stagings of this sweet opera in my birth country...

Jeanie said...

I am such a sucker for gorgeous theatres. Peter, this one has to be on my someday-list. It's beautiful and I would love to see something in that gorgeous environment!