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Of the handful of world-class opera houses in Paris, the oldest and most historically important is the Paris Garnier (named after the architect) or simply the Opera de Paris. Commissioned by Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon I and opened in 1875, the Paris Garnier is also arguably the most famous opera house in the world. This opera house is the fictional location of the world famous novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera written in 1910, and was also the source of the very popular classic American silent movie and later a Broadway musical by the exact same name, written by Englishman Andrew Lloyd Webber. At the time of its opening, the Paris Garnier was the largest theatre in the world.

The Paris Garnier is located in the 9 th arrondissement of Paris, less than 1.5 km from the Musee du Lourve. As with all other major attractions in the City of Paris, this opera house is easily accessible by the Paris Metro public transport. The three Metro lines that serve the closest subway station are Line #3, #7 and #8. Upon leaving the subway station, you are literally in front of the Paris Garnier, about 100 metres away.

The building represents an excellent form of the Beaux-Arts architecture, which was a very popular style of buildings in the late 19 th to early 20 th century. Other notable buildings in the world styled in the same form are the Grand Central Station in New York, City, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Theatre in Melbourne.

With nearly 2,000 seats for opera and ballet, the Paris Opera was the premier venue for over 100 years to view events until the larger, more modern Opera Bastille opened in 1989 on the 200 th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. However the Paris Opera still offers world-class opera and ballet and thousands of people simply visit the exterior of the building because of its beauty and opulence. If you are able to visit the interior of the building, you will notice the Grand Staircase and the Grand Foyer, which are both marvellous examples of French architecture. There is a small fee to enter the building and visitors can also the small museum housed within the grand opera house.

Once inside you might be able to visit the notorious opera box #5, where the fabled phantom, described as a dark figure cloaked in darkness, hid his face by wearing a mask and would not speak was known to have viewed the operas. In fact box #5 may have very well been considered to be the best seat in the house. Because of its notoriety, having the privilege of sitting in this box for many ballets or operas can been quite expensive. The phantom himself was known to have lived within the vast chambers of the Opera Garnier and it is there where he kidnapped the beautiful Christine, whom he loved so dearly. For classic movie enthusiasts, many will recall the famous scene of the 1925 film where Christine, portrayed by silent actress Mary Philbin removes the mask worn by the phantom, portrayed by the famous American actor and legend, Lon Chaney, who was perhaps the most famous actor of his time.
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