Analysis Of Charles Garnier's Opéra

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The origin of France’s national motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” stems back to the oratory of the French revolution. This motto presents an image of complete social equality between classes. In reality, the distinction between the haves and the have-nots was as rigid during the second half of the nineteenth century as it had been during the Ancien Régime. However for the recently established bourgeoisie, there was much more room to manoeuvre. Charles Garnier’s Opéra was built during the end of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic. Through its architectural style, it communicates both the need for class distinction and the possibility of upward mobility within bourgeoisie society. The social spaces of the Opéra create …show more content…
The vestibules act as a place where one can collect oneself and converse with others prior to making one’s debut on the Grand Staircase. Garnier intended for these areas to be places of transit and used scenographic elements to draw season ticket holders out towards the main social space, where they would mix with the single ticket holders (fig. 3). However, it is the appearance of the two primary vestibules that shows a marked distinction between the two entrances. Both rooms share an austere quality in comparison to the dazzling Grand Staircase, but the Vestibule des Abonnés is a distinctly more sumptuous space. The Vestibule des Abonnés’ use of rich materials (e.g. polychromatic mosaics, red Jura stone columns and mirrored niches) provides a stark contrast to the monochromatic arcade and statues of the Grand Vestibule, which seems plain by comparison. While one would be correct to state that separate entrances for the pedestrians and the carriages were needed for purely logistical reasons, the need for separate vestibules and the disparity between the cost of the two vestibules creates a distinction between those who could afford season tickets and those who could not. It was Garnier’s intent that this feeling of separation would diminish when these two groups would meet at the foot of the Grand

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