Paris Opera House
The history of the Paris Opera House that I have researched revealed five interesting topics. First, an attempted assassination of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugene took place as their carriage passed through the rue Lepeletier after an evening at the Opera. The incident prompted the Emperor to offer a competition to design a new opera house. In 1860, Charles Garnier entered the design contest called the Ministry of Fine Arts and won. The construction of the Opera House was funded by the state. Due to many unforeseen problems and the Franco Prussian war, the construction stopped in 1870. After the war, the working class occupied the unfinished opera house and used it as a warehouse, observation post, communications center, military post and a powder store. The project was finally finished in 1875, fourteen years later. When the emperor and empress were presented with the model, they asked "What is this style? It's not a style. It's not Greek, it's not Louis XVI." Charles Garnier was noted to have replied, "No, those styles have had their day. This style is Napoleon III, and you complain?"
Second, Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux, a writer, was moved by the grand architecture of the Opera House. With permission, Leroux explored the outer parts, including the cellar which at one time was used as a torture chamber, the basement which gave him access to the underground lake and many hidden passages.
When the Opera House was finished, it was one of the largest venues in
the world. The stage was built with 118,404 square feet, 11,000 in square
meters, that allowed space for 450 players. It was 185 feet high, 568
feet long, and 333 feet wide. The main chandelier weighed six and a half
tons. It took 13 painters, 73 sculptors, and 14 plasterers and stucco
specialists to complete the artwork. The Opera's cellar was built on top
of an underground lake and stream.
Third, Claude Debussy was quoted as saying, "To the uninformed passer
by", the Opera looks like a railway station...inside one might be
forgiven for thinking it was the central lounge of a Turkish bath."