"Sometimes we can even afford to go to the Opéra"

 

The Opéra Nationale de Paris is the leading opera company in France, similar to the Royal Opera House in London.  It has existed in various forms since 1669, when it was established by Louis XIV to popularise opera amongst the people.  The King, a skilled dancer, also encouraged the development of ballet.  After the Revolution, the company was renamed the Théâtre de la Republique; and in 1802 it was changed again by Napoleon.  It continued to be known by different names throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries until its present title was decided upon in 1994.  Its current location is at the Opéra Bastille, but at the time our story is set, it was at the Palais Garnier (ballets are still produced here).  The spectacular Palais was built on the orders of Napoleon III over a fifteen year period, and was completed in 1875.  It is especially famous for its grand staircase, formed of marble underneath a ceiling painted with musical allegories.  There is also a library-museum, containing three centuries worth of records of the Opéra's history.

The Palais Garnier provided both inspiration and setting to the writer Gaston Leroux when he wrote his famous tale 'The Phantom of the Opera'.

 

Opéra Nationale de Paris official website.