The Th tre Imp rial de l Op ra, the official title of the Paris Opera at that time (ca. 1865)
The Salle Le Peletier (sometimes referred to as the Salle de la rue Le Peletier or the Op ra Le Peletier) was the home of the Paris Opera from 1821 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873. The theatre was designed and constructed by the architect Fran ois Debret on the site of the former H tel de Choiseul. Due to the many changes in government and management during the theatre's existence, it had a number of different official names, the most important of which were: Th tre de l'Acad mie Royale de Musique (1821–1848), Op ra-Th tre de la Nation (1848–1850), Th tre de l'Acad mie Nationale de Musique (1850–1852), Th tre de l'Acad mie Imp riale de Musique (1852–1854), Th tre Imp rial de l'Op ra (1854–1870), and Th tre National de l'Op ra (1870–1873).
Painting of the Grande Salle of the theatre during a performance of a ballet (1864)
When King Louis XVIII's nephew, Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry, was fatally stabbed on the night of 13 February 1820 in front of the former theatre of the Paris Opera, the Salle de la rue de Richelieu, the king decided that the theatre would be demolished in order to build a commemorative chapel in its place. However, the project to build a chapel was never carried out due to the 1830 revolution. Today the Fontaine Louvois in the Square Louvois occupies the spot where the chapel would have been built. The Salle de la rue de Richelieu had been the principal venue of the Paris Opera since 1794. Very soon after the death of his nephew in February 1820, the king commissioned the architect Fran ois Debret to design a new theatre for the Op ra on the Rue Le Peletier, which was completed one year later. During the construction the opera and ballet companies occupied the Th tre Favart and the Salle Louvois.
The Salle Le Peletier was inaugurated on 16 August 1821 with a mixed-bill that opened with the anthem "Vive Henry VIII", and included the composer Catel's opera Les Bayad res and the Ballet Master Gardel's ballet Le Retour de Z phire. Although the theatre was meant to be temporary and was built of wood and plaster, it continued to be used by the Op ra for more than fifty years. Many of the great grand operas of the 19th century were presented for the first time on its stage, among them: Rossini's Guillaume Tell (1829), Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (1831), Hal vy's La Juive (1835), and Verdi's Don Carlos (1867).
The Principal Ballerinas of the Paris Opera in 1831 (clockwise from top left): Lise Noblet, Marie Taglioni, Constance Julia, Alexis Dupont, Am lie Legallois, and Pauline Montessu.
The theatre, which was 14,000 square metres in area with a 104 ft. stage, was quite advanced for its time. On 6 February 1822 gas was used for the first time in order to light the stage effects in Nicolas Isouard's opera Aladin ou La Lampe merveilleuse. The stage and orchestra pit were able to be removed in order to transform the auditorium into a massive hall which could accommodate large balls and other festivities.
Along with the Ballet of Her Majesty's Theatre in London, the Salle Le Peletier played host to the heyday of the romantic ballet, with such Balletmasters as Jules Perrot, Arthur Saint-L on, Filippo Taglioni, Joseph Mazilier, Jean Coralli, and Paul Taglioni staging many masterworks for the Paris Opera Ballet. Among these works: La Sylphide (1832), Giselle (1841), Paquita (1846), Le corsaire (1856), Le papillon (1860), La source (1866), and Copp lia (1870). Among the great ballerinas to grace the stage of the Op ra during this time were Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Carolina Rosati, Fanny Elssler, Lucile Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito.
On the night of 29 October 1873, the Salle Le Peletier met the same fate as many of its predecessors: it was destroyed by a fire which raged for 27 hours, believed to have been started by the theatre's innovative gas lighting. Fortunately, in 1858 Emperor Napoleon III had hired the civic planner Baron Haussmann to begin construction on a second theatre for the Parisian Opera and Ballet based on the design of architect Charles Garnier. In 1875 the new theatre, today known as the Palais Garnier, was inaugurated.
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The ballet Giselle during a state visit of Tsar Alexander II (4 June 1867)
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Perspective view of the fa ade on the Rue Le Peletier (ca. 1870)
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Lithograph of the Grande Salle (1854)
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Site plan, floor plan, and interior perspective view (1822)
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The backstage area (ca. 1855)
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Lithograph depicting many famous dancers and their patrons in the Foyer de la Danse (1841)
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Fire of 29 October 1873
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Perspective view of the fire
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After the fire
Notable premi res
- Barbier, Patrick (1995). Opera in Paris, 1800 1850: A Lively History. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-0-931340-83-3.
- Fauser, Annegret, editor; Everist, Mark, editor (2009). Music, theater, and cultural transfer. Paris, 1830–1914. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-23926-2.
- Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
- Mead, Christopher Curtis (1991). Charles Garnier's Paris Opera. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-13275-6.
- Pitou, Spire (1983). The Paris Op ra: an encyclopedia of operas, ballets, composers, and performers (3 volumes). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwod Press. ISBN 978-0-686-46036-7.
- Simeone, Nigel (2000). Paris: a musical gazateer. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08053-7.
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