Opera National de Paris
In my opinion there is one very compelling reason to visit the Paris Opera if ever in this city. And it's not the building itself, as I have to agree with Max's assessment when walking through the halls up the grand stairs to the theater. "This is so overdone."
It's the ceiling, painted by Marc Chagall.
There is simply no way a photo can convey the experience of encountering this expansive artwork after making one's way through the ornate lobby into the heavily appointed theater. The ceiling rises like a breath of fresh air, light with brilliant color and captivating scenes celebrating the ballet, musicians and its audience.
Chagall was commissioned to paint the ceiling in 1963, a choice that caused controversy centering around the fact he was a Russian Jew rather than a french born artist, with others objecting to the ceiling of the historic building being painted by a modern artist. It took him just a year to complete the work.
It was presented to the public on September 23, 1964. Once the orchestra played the finale of a Mozart symphony, Chagall's favorite composer, the chandelier was lit up bringing the painting to life to great acclaim, essentially silencing the critics.
During other visits this site the curtain has been drawn at the stage. What a fabulous treat to see work for a production in progress while stopping by this time! It was amazing to see how far the stage extended back into the recesses of the building...
... with lighting being tested...
... and elements of the stage moved around in preparation for a performance.
The rest of the day included a boat tour on the Seine, which I've never done. It was really interesting to see the city and its monuments from the river, offering a very different perspective than one gets when approaching sites from the street.
Then we just had to fit in a trip to Galleries Lafayette. I can't recall visiting this grand dame of department stores before, and it truly did impress. The lower level carries over 150 shoe lines, each with their own mini department. The store sells every conceivable line of goods, from the obtainable to the best of luxury goods, plus a restaurant where a very tall glass of wine will set you back only 2.7 euros. I needed it by the time we made our way through the floors up to the top level for a food and drink break. It can all become a bit overwhelming and I'm looking forward to a little day trip out of the city tomorrow to visit another favorite spot in France. More on that tomorrow...