This exhibition is being organised by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Opéra national de Paris to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Paris Opera. It goes back over the often turbulent history of the first opera house in France, in its relations with Italian culture.
Emerging in Florence circa 1600, court operas began to be performed across the other towns of the peninsula before reaching France, thanks first to the cultural policy of Queen Marie de’ Medici and then to that of Cardinal Mazarin, who were both keen to promote Italian performing arts through the first half of the 17th century. In 1669, after several years of experimenting, French opera finally appeared on the scene when Louis XIV founded the first opera house, no longer reserved solely for a courtly elite, but henceforth open to a wider, admission-paying audience. He granted an “opera privilege” to a show business entrepreneur, now expected to train a troupe and hire out a hall. Designed “on the Italian model”, the Paris Opera’s mission was to present “performances in French verse to music”. Until the French Revolution, this mission was carried out with two constant, yet conflicting, aims in mind: to look to a transalpine model for inspiration whilst showcasing a national ambition.
The exhibition brings these flamboyant chapters in the Opera’s history back to life for visitors – peopled by such prominent figures as Louis XIV, Lully, Campra, Rameau, Gluck and Salieri, at a time when Paris was forging its reputation as one of Europe’s musical capitals.
Under the direction of Mickaël Bouffard, Christian Schirm and Jean-Michel Vinciguerra
22 x 27 cm, 192 pages, 100 reproductions, 39€
Published by RMN / BnF Éditions
May 28 – September 1, 2019
Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra, Palais Garnier
Access on the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber, Paris 9e
Every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open until 7 p.m. from July 15
Full rate 14€ - Reduced rate 10€
Mickaël Bouffard, Art Historian
Christian Schirm, Artistic Director of Academy, Opéra national de Paris
Jean-Michel Vinciguerra, Curator at the Musical Department, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Loïc Le Gall
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