The Paris Opera, officially called the Opéra National de Paris founded in XNUMX, is the oldest and most famous opera company of France. It mainly produces operas at its modern XNUMX-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in XNUMX, and ballets and some classical operas at the older Palais Garnier which opened in XNUMX.

Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the XNUMX-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille. The company’s annual budget is in the order of XNUMX million euros, of which XNUMX million come from the French state and XNUMX million from box office receipts. With this money, the company runs the two houses and supports a large permanent staff, which includes the orchestra of XNUMX, a chorus of XNUMX and the corps de ballet of XNUMX. Each year, the Opéra presents about XNUMX performances of opera, ballet and other concerts, to a total audience of about XNUMX people (of whom XNUMX% come from abroad), which is a very good average seat occupancy rate of XNUMX%.

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The Palais Garnier is a XNUMX-seat opera house, which was built from XNUMX to XNUMX for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the XNUMXth arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier.

The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until XNUMX, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

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The Palais Garnier has been called “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica.”This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s XNUMX novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel’s subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular XNUMX musical.

Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.” This opinion is far from unanimous however: the XNUMXth-century French architect Le Corbusier once described it as “a lying art” and contended that the “Garnier movement is a décor of the grave”.

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