Did you know that one of the most famous opera houses in the world is the Palais Garnier, located in Paris, France? It is an opulent building filled with elaborate decorations such as paintings and sculpture. The auditorium has nearly 2,000 seats and has the largest stage in Europe. Another stunning feature is the central chandelier. It weighs 7 tons and is made of bronze and crystal. On May 20, 1896, a part of the system that held the massive chandelier in place broke free and crashed through the ceiling down to where the audience was sitting. This terrifying incident was the inspiration for one of the unforgettable scenes in Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera.
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The original name for the building was the Salle des Capuchines, but it was soon known as the Palais Garnier, after its architect Charles Garnier. It has also been called the Opéra de Paris since it was the home of the Paris Opera and Paris Opera Ballet.
The building currently houses the Paris Opera Library Museum. There are almost 600,000 documents including books, periodicals, letters, photographs, programs, posters, costume and set sketches, and administrative records from the history of the Paris Opera.
Many of the sculptures in the Palais Garnier represent an aspect of music or art. There are statues on the façade that represent: Harmony, Poetry, Architecture, Industry, Painting, Sculpture, IInstrumental Music, Song, Drama, and Dance. There are also sculptures that represent parts of mythology such as Apollo, Pegasus, comic and tragic masks; and busts of famous composers such as Rossini, Auber, Beethoven, Mozart, Spontini, Meyerbeer, Halevy, Bach, Haydn, Cimarosa, and Pergolesi.