From Carmen to Mélisande, dramatic works at the Opéra Comique

Presentation

Opening to the public in February 1715, at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, the Opéra Comique is among the three oldest French dramatic institutions with the Paris Opéra and the Comédie-Française. In 2015 its tricentennial will be part of the national celebrations calendar and will lead to several heritage events organized by the company and prestigious partners.

The Petit Palais will host an exhibition devoted to the core of the Opéra Comique repertoire: great masterpieces premiered from 1870 to 1914 and performed worldwide. Carmen, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Lakmé, Manon, Pelléas et Mélisande, L’Heure espagnole: these titles are proof that during that period the Opéra Comique was the rendezvous of arts, disciplines, techniques and esthetics.
As a place of creation, hence of debates, scandals and fights, the Opéra Comique turned out to be a place of drama in every sense of the word: a stage where drama gradually supplanted the comic spirit and stirred the Belle Epoque; a theater devastated by the awful 1887 fire in the middle of a performance.

Rebuilt between 1893 and 1898 the Salle Favart is the exact contemporary of the Petit Palais. Massenet’s Cendrillon, the first premiere after its reopening, identified the fairy of Perrault’s tale with electricity whose powers were celebrated by the 1900 Exposition Universelle for which the Petit Palais was built.
The two buildings share the same decorative principle that leads to visual echoes: the decoration of the Salle Favart is an ode to woman, echoing the Triumph of Woman by Georges Picard at the Petit Palais; the four allegories by Joseph-Paul Blanc in the avant-foyer of the theater – Music, Comedy, Dance and Singing – are the counterparts of those by Albert Besnard in the entrance hall of the museum – Mystic, Plastic, Thought and Matter. Besides, artists such as sculptor Injalbert and mosaicist Facchina participated in the decoration of these two emblematic places of the Belle Epoque.

The multidisciplinary exhibition “Carmen et Mélisande, drames à l’Opéra Comique” will connect the performing arts to the visual arts by addressing all the senses. It will be associated with a series of interviews, the screening of recorded productions and commented recitals with the participation of the Académie de l’Opéra Comique.
The approach will be didactic and intended for the general public, resting on what is most striking for today’s public in order to document an era that was fruitful for our culture and decisive for modern society.
A great variety of objects will be exhibited: paintings, sculptures, costumes, stage sets, props, models, maps, manuscripts, posters, photos, audiovisual documents, most of them from collections at the museums of the Ville de Paris and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Commissariat général :
Jérôme Deschamps, 
directeur de l’Opéra Comique
Christophe Leribault, directeur du Petit Palais

Commissariat scientifique :
Agnès Terrier
, dramaturge de l’Opéra Comique
Cécile Reynaud, conservateur en chef au département de la Musique de la BnF

Useful information

Opening hours
From Tuesday to Sunday : 10 am - 6 pm
Closed on Monday and public holidays
Late opening on Friday until 9pm

Admission charges
Full-price: 8€
Reduced rate: 6€
For free until 17 years old.