Rameau, "Aux langueurs d'Apollon," from Platee.
This is brilliant. And hilarious.
(Just click on the pic to watch the video on youTube.)
Another leg on my virtual walking tour (or perhaps a moped tour) of
Paris in the 18th century.
Opera in France began with the establishment of the Academie Royale
de Music by Louis XIV in 1669. It was set up as a State institution,
generally referred to as "l'Opera," which included both opera and
ballet. The Academie Royale was essentially a monopoly. Any opera or
ballet performed anywhere in France had to pay a royalty to the
managers of the Academie.
Over its history what would become known as the Paris Opera was
located in many different venues in Paris, most of which were
destroyed by fire. (I imagine it was kind of tough getting the fire
from all those candles to not wander off.) The first official opera
house was the Salle d'Issy, located in what was then a suburb of
Paris (the Issy-les-Moulineaux).
Today the legacy is represented by the Opera Garnier and the Opera
Bastille. The Opera Garnier opened in 1875 and is a building of Second
Empire lavishness. The Opera Bastille is modern in architectural style
and opened in 1989. Both could be and in fact are referred to as the
Paris Opera, though the majority of operas are now performed at the
Luckily the public gets to enjoy both, no matter what they are called.
It's Paris. It's opera. It's ALL good.
Incidentally, two of the small number of busts on the front facade of
the Opera Garnier are of Mozart and Beethoven — one of whom wrote
operas but wasn't French, the other who wasn't French and who only
wrote one opera. A few more busts are of Italians. Go figure that
one. Maybe the French are right these days in trying to protect
their cultural integrity.
Can anyone say "Rameau" and "Lully"?
SOURCES: The links given above, as well as a whole bunch of Wikipedia
stuff, including the photos.
Salle de la rue de Richelieu, i.e. Theatre de l'Opera
Opera Garnier (1875-present), interior.
Opera Bastille (1989-present).