Monthly Archives: May 2014

Re-opening of the Royal Opera of Versailles

             Picture © Artlys / Art+musées et monuments

As you might not know, he Royal Opera re-opened its doors after 2 years of renovation work. This re-opening was on 21 September 2009. The building, an integral part of the Palace of Versailles, is the perfect example of a court theatre and is one of the remarkable elements of the estate of Versailles through its architectural, decorative, technical and theatrical arrangements.

           Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

The opening of the opera house at Versailles brought to a very strict process of planification, projects and designs that took nearly 100 years. While it was finally built almost at the end of Louis XV’s reign, it had been conceived since as early as 1682, the year when Louis XIV, his predecessor took up residence at Versailles. Having commissioned Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Vigarani to draw up plans for a ballet theatre by the King, Mansart took the decision on a position at the end of the new wing that was to be constructed over the forthcoming years: the nearby reservoirs for the now very famous gardens, fountains could be also used to fight any fire if necessary while the sloping ground on that part of the site would allow provision of the necessary technical spaces below the stage without major excavation work. So cleverly-chosen, was the planned location that no one from Mansart’s successors ever questioned.

opera-royal-de-versailles (1)
          Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

In the beginning, the construction of the new theatre was planned for at least 20 years. Gabriel, who studied the leading theathers of Italy (particulary the ones at Vicenza, Bologna, Parma, Modena and Turin), during this period presented a variety of different designs to his patron, which, incredibly were not accepted. The king finally gave the order for work to commence only in 1768. Construction worked so flawlessly that the new opera house was finished in 23 months, ready to be launched on May 16th, 1770, the day of the wedding of the Archduchess Marie-Antoinette and Dauphin with a performance of
Persée by Quinault and Lully.

Initially commissioned to Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1682, the construction of the Royal Opera was lead by Jacques-Ange Gabriel and inaugurated in 1770 during the wedding of the future Louis XVI. Greatly transformed under Louis-Philippe by Frédéric Nepveu, it was deprived of its theatrical purpose in 1871 to house the Senate and it wasn’t until 1957, after a vast campaign lead by André Japy, that it was restored to the aspect it had under the old Régime, back to the Opera Royal.

        Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

The Royal Opera is ready to welcome back audiences since the 2009-2010 season, so now is time for you to enjoy it as well!

If you are planning to visit Versailles, there are several options with us, where you can enjoy a Versailles Castle Guided Tour with Pickup, a guided tour, an audio guided tour, also enjoy the Fountain Show, and also share it with a Louvre Museum visit. Tickets from Paris to Versailles Round Trip RER , also available.

François Gérard @ the Château de Fontainebleau

Thomas_Lawrence_-_Francois_Gerard        Thomas Lawrence [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Student of Jacques-Louis David, François enjoyed a big success for his history and portrait paintings. He became a painter of the court under Napoleon Bonaparte, first painter of Joséphine de Beauharnais, and of the King of the restoration, during Luis XVIII and Charles X reign. His reputation made him so famous, that frontiers opened for him  with the major sovereign families of Europe, pushing themselves to get a portrait painted by the Gérard.

Gerard_-_Napoléon_II_Roi_de_Rome       François Gérard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With the perfect mix of elegance and psychological depth, his early works introduced the Gérard to a clientele who were always looking  for recognition. Starting 1800, Napoleon’s commissions gave him an official position: Baron.

gérard-hortensetfils-font2 copie   Hortense de Beauharnais and her son, the Crown Prince of Holland, 
            Gérard, 1807. Photo: © Château de Versailles.

Since 1795, and until he died, he produced images of his contemporaries, and achieved a grade of success that only a few other artists of his time were able to gain.

Reuniting more than 70 works from private and public collections in France and from several European museums, this retrospective finally pays homage to the master who was known to his contemporaries as “the painter of kings and the king of painters.”

Dates and times:
Every Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
From: Saturday 29 March To: Monday 30 June 2014

Event Location:
Musée national du château de Fontainebleau ,
Château de Fontainebleau
77 Fontainebleau, 77300
Metro: Pigalle

For a  visit to Fontainebleau and Barbizon for 4 1/2 hours, Including hotel/apartment pickup and return inside Paris, go here.