Inaugurated on 13 July 1989, the Bastille Opera house is the work of Uruguayan-Canadian architect Carlos Ott. The building is marked by transparent façades and the use of identical materials inside and outside the building.
Containing 2,713 seats and a hall of homogeneous acoustics, unique stage equipment, on-site workshops to make the Opera’s sets, costumes and props, but also studios and rehearsal rooms, the Bastille Opera is a large, modern and unique building in the world theatre, able to produce its own performances.
The Bastille Opera has developed state-of-the-art craftsmanship and technology. Devoted to the making of performances, hundreds of people are combining their efforts and skills throughout the year. An entire city comes to life: stage technicians, sculptors and painters, seamstresses and hairdressers work alongside the singers, dancers and musicians.
Guided tours will take you behind the scenes of this vast and modern theatre, designed in 1989 by Carlos Ott.
The large auditorium can welcome up to 2,700 spectators in optimal acoustic conditions, and offers a front view ensuring good visibility for all spectators.
On the outside, the Opera’s façade offers contrasts of black, white and grey reflecting the combination of its three main materials: metal, glass and stone. A large porch made of Lanhélin granite and facing the Colonne de Juillet marks the entrance to the building.
Inside, the glass walls let natural light flow into the public spaces of the main room. Open to the city outside, this space was imagined as a transitional path between urban life and the performance hall. The transparency is also showing an Opera open to the public.
The double colonnade of Lanhélin blue granite hosts two long flights of stairs that lead from the reception hall to the various doors of the main auditorium. On each level, small lounges and mezzanines offer a panoramic view of the Bastille Square and Paris.
The Bastille Opera is a state-of-the-art building, with extremely performing stage equipment. The stage can be transformed into a multi-purpose room, depending on the productions, which allows for prompt changes of scenery thanks to a system of rails.
The stage of the Bastille Opera is mobile. Thanks to a 400m² lift, composed of three main lifts, the stage can be moved vertically, in one block, with a fully assembled set. It can be moved in less than 12 minutes from the stage level down to the storage level located 21 metres below.
The backstage is equipped with a rotating mechanical circle called a revolving stage, which can be found in the assembly area on the lower level. It allows technicians to rotate the decors before placing them on the set or storing them in the storage areas.
This room was imagined as a welcoming and meeting place, in addition to public spaces. It is used, among other occasions, as a space to welcome events linked to the programming of the main hall.
The Studio is a small room with 237 seats, located in the roof space of the restaurant Les Grandes Marches (formerly La Tour d'Argent), hosting recitals, concerts and conferences.
In the 1970s, the idea of building a new Opera House was evoked, mostly to overcome some restrictions of the Palais Garnier, particularly the lack of space. On 8 March 1982, François Mitterrand made a statement to announce the building of a new Opera on the site of the former Bastille station, chosen for its symbolic location.
To select the architect of the future Opera, a competition was launched and held in 1983. Contrary to the one organised for the Palais Garnier, it was an international competition.
Of the registered files 1 620, 757 projects of 45 different nationalities were anonymously submitted. A project was selected by the Presidency of the Republic in November 1983 and, to everyone's surprise, it belonged to Carlos Ott, a Canadian-Uruguayan architect.
The construction work partially reached the street level. From the end of July to mid-August 1986, the site was momentarily interrupted on a government decision.
The Bastille Opera was inaugurated on 13 July 1989 - on the eve of the French Revolution’s 200th anniversary - by the French President François Mitterrand and in the presence of many heads of state and guests. A performance by Robert Wilson and conducted by Georges Prêtre was organised.
© Christian Leiber / OnP
Grande salle de l’Opéra Bastille © Jean-Pierre Delagarde / OnP
Vue du foyer du Studio de l’Opéra Bastille © Jean-Pierre Delagarde / OnP
© Brodbeck & de Barbuat / OnP
Opéra Bastille - Arrière scène © Patrick Tourneboeuf / Tendance Floue / OnP
A unique experiment: from the stage set to the workshops where the productions are made, discover some spaces usually closed to the public.
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