Simon Chaput / OnP
Individual spectators

My first steps

Everything you need to know before your first visit to the Paris Opera.

How do I get to the performance?

Check the venue and the time of the performance:

At the Palais Garnier 
Place de l’Opéra
75009 Paris

Access by public transport
Metro: Opéra (lines 3, 7 and 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lines 7 and 9) Madeleine (lines 8 and 14),
Auber (RER line A)
Bus : 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42, 52, 66, 68, 81, 95,
Car Parks : Place Vendôme, Meyerbeer, Edouard VII, Haussmann Berri, Haussmann Galeries Lafayette

At the Opéra Bastille
Place de la Bastille
75012 Paris

Access by public transport
Metro: Bastille (lines 1, 5 and 8), Gare de Lyon (line 14), Gare de Lyon (RER line A)
Bus 20, 29, 65, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91
Car Parks: Opéra Bastille, 34 rue de Lyon (6 hour special rate for performances)

When should I arrive?

It is strongly recommended that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the performance. Check the performance venue, Opera Bastille or Palais Garnier, as well as the starting time. In the evening, performances begin early (7:30 pm), sometimes earlier (7:00 pm, 6:00 pm or 5:30 pm) and finish between 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm. For matinees, the performance begins at 2:00 pm or 2:30 pm.

In case of late arrival, in order to not disturb other spectators, the ushers will ask you to wait for an interval or a suitable interlude before taking your seats.

How long is the performance?

The duration of a performance varies, but a work generally lasts between 2 and 3 hours, including interval(s). Ballets are often shorter.

While some ballets or operas have no interruption, most productions have between one and three intervals, for a minimum duration of 20 minutes.

The duration of the performance that you have chosen is shown on the page presenting the season’s productions.

What should I wear for my evening at the Opera?

Although evening dress is customary (suits for men and evening dresses for women) and is highly recommended for gala evenings, more casual dress is accepted, provided that it is decent. However, avoid attire that is too scanty.

What are the basic rules to enable everyone to enjoy the evening?

For the tranquillity of all, and in respect of the work of the artists, please kindly observe several simple rules as follows :

- Turn off your mobile phone. You may check it during the intermission.
- It is forbidden to take photos and videos during the performance.
- Once the performance has started, please wait for the interval to share your impressions.
- Do not take food or drink into the auditorium. You may drink and eat during the interval.
- Please use perfume in moderation.

Food and drinks?

Bars serving drinks and light meals are situated in the public areas of the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille. They are at your disposal three quarters of an hour before each performance and during intervals. You may order directly from the bar upon arrival in the theatre. However, consumption of food and beverages is prohibited inside the auditorium.
For further information

A restaurant is also available at the Palais Garnier.
For further information

Where can I purchase the programme or a souvenir of my visit to the Opera?

You may purchase the programme on the evening of the performance in the entrance hall, at the boutiques in the Opera Bastille and Palais Garnier, and at the online store.

Our boutiques contain reference books on music, dance, opera and the Opera’s heritage (history, architecture, costumes), DVDs of Paris Opera productions, recordings by the Paris Opera orchestra and chorus, publications and items for children (books, cut-out models, guided tours of the Palais Garnier), and a wide selection of postcards, stationery, posters, derivative products and other gifts

At the Palais Garnier, the Gallery of the Paris Opera is accessible from the peristyle and directly from rue Halévy.
Open every day, Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm.
On performance evenings, opening hours are extended until the end of the event.
Telephone: +33 (0)1 53 43 03 97

At the Opera Bastille, the boutique is located in the theatre lobby, Place de la Bastille entrance.
Open Monday to Saturday, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and from 2:30 pm to 7:00pm.
On performance evenings (including Sunday), opening hours are extended until the end of the 1st interval.
Telephone: +33 (0)1 40 01 17 82

This is my first opera, will I understand the story?

Extensive information and excerpts from performances are available on our website.

For each production, you can also purchase the programme notes which contain much information about the work, its context, its libretto and its interpreters.

The Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille are both equipped with surtitling devices in French. At the Opera Bastille, surtitling in English is also visible from most seats.

Ballet: Did you know?

Who are the dancers who perform the ballets of the Paris Opera season?

The ballets in Benjamin Millepied's choreographic season are performed by the Étoiles and the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. Exceptionally, soloists from elsewhere may appear with the company.

All the ballets performed on the stages of the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille are danced by the company, with the exception of productions by guest companies who each year present their own repertoire performed by their own dancers. The company’s organisation allows for two casts for each production, the Étoiles alternating with Premiers Danseurs or young talents in the solo roles.

+ Read more

How did the Ballet of the Paris Opera start?

The Company is more than three hundred years old! The first director of the Opera Ballet was none other than King Louis XIV. An accomplished dancer himself and the creator of at least 27 ballets and several technical figures, he became known as the Sun King after performing the role of Apollon-Soleil Levant (Apollo, the Rising Sun) in Le Ballet de la Nuit, in 1653.

Louis XIV wished to “reinstate [dance] in its most perfect form and further it as much as may be possible”. In his desire to develop the courtly style into a veritable performance art, as soon as he came to power in 1661, he founded the Royal Academy of dance. Ancestor of the current Opera Ballet, the role of the Royal Academy of Dance was to establish the rules of dance and to teach ballet. Thus the art of Classical Ballet was born. From then on dance technique became increasingly complex and soon necessitated the constitution of a company of professional dancers as well as the creation of a school of dance to train its members.

What is the role of the Ballet School?

The birthplace of classical dance, the School's mission is “to train the dancers of the Ballet and carry out the professional training of dancers” (Decree dated February 5th 1994 defining the status of the Paris Opera).

The Ballet School is the oldest of its kind in the western world and celebrated its tri-centenary in 2013. For many years, it was located at the Palais Garnier, a building which, as the years passed, proved ill-adapted to its mission. One explanation of the term “petit rat” (little rat) comes from the fact that the first classes took place in the attics.

It wasn’t until 1987 that the School, then under the direction of Claude Bessy, moved to a new purpose-built site bringing dance training, academic studies up to Baccalaureat level and boarding facilities under one roof in a modern, and perfectly adapted building. Situated in Nanterre, the new school was designed by the architect Christian de Portzamparc.

Almost all the dancers in the Opera ballet have been trained at the Ballet School. Each year, as posts become vacant, pupils compete in entrance examinations for places in the Company.

How is the Paris Opera Ballet organised?

Under Brigitte Lefèvre’s direction's the Paris Opera Ballet is composed of 154 dancers. Most of them have been trained at the Ballet School, currently directed by Elisabeth Platel.

Usually joining the ballet between the ages of 16 and 20, the artists nowadays end their careers at the Opera when they are 42 years old.

The prestigious Corps de Ballet of the Paris Opera is organised in grades comprising, in descending order of seniority: Premier Danseurs, Sujets, Coryphées and Quadrilles. This hierarchy is established by an annual competition with a jury composed of five dancers chosen by their colleagues and five representatives of the management team two of whom are from outside the company. The competition allows those who choose to take part to rise to the grade of Premier Danseur. Only the Étoiles are appointed by the Director of the Opera, on the nomination of the Director of Dance.

A typical day in the life of an Opera dancer

Traditionally, the day begins with a warm-up session, starting with a series of bar exercises and finishing with the most virtuoso exercises. These daily sessions bring together all the dancers in the Company, from the youngest Quadrilles to the most experienced of the Étoiles. Throughout their career, the artists of the Ballet also have dance lessons to perfect their technique, coach them for their roles and train them for the internal competitions. Coaching is mainly provided by teachers from the Opera Ballet. The rest of the day is essentially focused around rehearsals for both current and future productions. These work sessions are directed by guest choreographers, their representatives or assistants or by the Ballet Masters and Assistant Ballet Masters of the Opera Ballet.

What is a Défilé?

The Défilé is a sort of “parade” lasting about fifteen minutes and performed to the March of the Trojans by Hector Berlioz. Its current form was laid down by Serge Lifar in 1945: the entire company of dancers of the Corps de Ballet, led by the youngest pupils of the School of Dance, process down the 46 metres from the Foyer de la Danse, lit by its glittering chandeliers and situated at the back of the stage of the Palais Garnier, to the front of the stage, to greet the audience. Although it is usually presented at Garnier, it has also been performed at the Opera Bastille. An important ritual, the Défilé brings together almost 300 artists, from the youngest pupils of the School of Dance to the most experienced of the Étoiles.

What is meant by the term “repertoire”?

The Repertoire comprises all the choreographic works that a company is in a position to perform repeatedly during its various artistic seasons. It is the sum total of the works that it has made its own, brought to life and that will endure over time. The repertoire represents the company’s “capital”, its life force and its memory. It also reflects the artistic sensibility and choices of its artistic direction.

The Ballet of the Paris Opera has a large repertoire. Whilst placing considerable importance on maintaining the tradition of the grand classical ballets, with particular emphasis on the choreographies of Rudolf Nureyev, the repertoire has been enriched with works that stand out in our own period. The Director of Dance regularly invites today’s choreographers to revisit existing ballets or to create new works. Thus, since 1995, several major works have entered the repertoire of the Opera Ballet including The Rite of Spring and Orpheus and Eurydice by Pina Bausch, Glacial Decoy by Trisha Brown, La Dame aux Camelias and Mahler’s Third Symphony by John Neumeier, La Maison de Bernarda and Une sorte de… by Mats Ek, and Rain by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. Numerous choreographers, including some of the most emblematic of the period, have also created new works for the Company: Maurice Béjart, Trisha Brown, Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Blanca Li, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, José Montalvo, John Neumeier, Robyn Orlin, Roland Petit, Angeli Preljocaj, Alexei Ratmanski, Saburo Teshigawara, Sasha Waltz … In addition, the former director of Dance, Brigitte Lefèvre has given 8 Étoiles or Soloists from the Company the opportunity to explore their choreographic talents on the stages of either the Palais Garnier or the Opera Bastille.

The Paris Opera Ballet maintains its importance as a centre for artistic creation and a breeding ground for the dancers and choreographers of today. Its repertoire brings together past and present and constitutes the heritage of tomorrow.


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