Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique (a.k.a. the Salle de la rue Le Peletier, or casually as the Paris Opéra, or simply as the Opéra) was the official theatre of the French theatrical institution known as the Académie Royale de Musique from 1821 until 1873, and was principal venue of the Parisian opera (from 1822) and ballet companies until its destruction by fire in 1873.
The theatre was designed by the architect François Debret, and its construction was completed in only one year, replacing the previous theatre which had occupied its space. It was inaugurated in 1821.
The Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique is referred to under many names, the most common being the Paris Opéra, Opéra de Paris, Grand Opéra, or simply as the Opéra. Due to the many changes in government in France during the theatre's existence, the theatre was known under a number of official titles:
|1821||1848||Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique|
|1848||1852||Théâtre de l’Opéra|
|1852||1855||Théâtre de l’Académie Impérial de Musique|
|1855||1870||Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra|
|1870||1873||Théâtre de l’Opéra|
When King Louis XVIII's nephew, Duke Charles Ferdinand was fatally stabbed in front of the Théâtre de l’Opéra on the night of 13 February 1820, the King decided that the theatre would be demolished in order to build a chapel in its place (this chapel was demolished in 1830, and today the Place Louvois occupies its space). Since 1794, the Théâtre de l’Opéra had been the principal venue of the Académie Royale de Musique, the great institution of French theatrical arts consisting of Parisian Opera, Ballet, and music. Very soon after the death of his nephew in February 1820, the King commissioned the architect François Debret to design a new theatre for the Académie on the rue Le Peletier, which was completed one year later. During the construction the opera and ballet companies occupied the Théâtre Favart and the Salle Louvois.
The Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique, also known as the Salle de la rue Le Peletier or more popularly as the Paris Opéra (as were of its many predecessors) was inaugurated on 16 August 1821 with a mixed-bill that opened with the anthem Vive Henry VIII, and included the composer Catel's opera Les Bayadères and the Ballet Master Gardel's ballet Le Retour de Zéphire.
Upon its inauguration the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique was incorporated as part of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the society of French fine arts established in 1816. In 1822 the Opera company officially made the theatre its principal venue, and soon many of the great grand operas of the 19th century were being presented for the first time on its stage, among them: Gioacchino Rossini's Guillaume Tell (1829), Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (1831), Gaetano Donizetti's La fille du régiment (1840), and Charles Gounod's Parisian version of Faust (1869).
The grand theatre, which comprised an incredible 14,000 square metres including a 104 ft. stage, was quite advanced for its time; on 6 February 1822 gas was used for the first time in order to light the stage effects in Nicolas Isouard's opera Aladin ou La Lampe merveilleuse. The stage and orchestra pit were able to be removed in order to transform the auditorium into a massive hall which could accommodate large balls, etc.
Along with the Ballet of Her Majesty's Theatre in London, the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique played host to the heyday of the romantic ballet, with such Balletmasters as Jules Perrot, Arthur Saint-Léon, Filippo Taglioni, Joseph Mazilier, Jean Coralli, and Paul Taglioni staging many masterworks for the theatre's company (today known as the Paris Opera Ballet). Among these works: La Sylphide (1832), Giselle (1841), Paquita (1846), Le Corsaire (1856), Le Papillon (1860), La Source (1866), and Coppélia (1870). Among the great ballerinas to grace the stage of the Opéra during this time were Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Carolina Rosati, Fanny Elssler, Lucile Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito.
On the night of 29 of October 1873, the legendary Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique met the same fate as many of its predecessors: it was destroyed by a fire which raged for 27 hours, believed to have been started by the theatre's innovative gas lighting. Fortunately, in 1858 Emperor Napoleon III had hired the civic planner Baron Haussmann to begin construction on a second theatre for the Parisian Opera and Ballet based on the design of architect Charles Garnier, which after the destruction of the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique would be the only theatre for the two companies. In 1875 the new theatre, today known as the Palais Garnier, was inaugurated.
In 1989 the Opera company relocated to the newly completed Opéra Bastille, although performances are still held by the troupe at the Palais Garnier, where the Ballet company remains. In spite of the name, this theatre is referred to by many people as the Paris Opéra.
The Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique was known under many names from the time it was first inaugurated in 1821 until its destruction by fire in 1873.
When first established, the theatre was known as the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique, being that it was the official theatre of the Académie Royale de Musique. From 1848 until 1852 during the transition of the Second French Republic into the Second French Empire, the theatre was known simply as the Théâtre de l'Opéra. In 1852, at the start of the reign of Emperor Napoleon III as ruler of the Second French Empire (from 1852 until 1870), the theatre's official name was changed to the Théâtre de l’Académie Impérial de Musique, which was in keeping with the change of titles of the Académie Royale de Musique to the Académie Impérial de Musique. In 1855 the theatre's name was simplified as the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra when the old Académie ceased to exist, a name which was retained until the fall of the Second French Empire in 1870. Upon the establishment of the Third French Republic in 1870 the theatre was again known simply as the Théâtre de l’Opéra, a title it retained until its destruction by fire in 1873.
The successor to the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique, the opulent Palais Garnier, has also been known under many names since its inauguration in 1875 to the present day. Just as its predecessors, the theatre is known as the Paris Opéra.