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Video transcript

we're in the Paris Opera by Charles Gagne now this was a project that was very much a part of Napoleon the Third's reconstruction of Paris with the help of Baron Haussmann who was creating boulevards and a city of spectacle Houseman was hired to really modernize the city of Paris to get rid of those old winding streets to provide sewers to bring light into the street the Paris that we see today is very much the Paris of Baron Haussmann and Napoleon the third and in fact when we look from the balconies of the Opera House we really see all of those broad avenues that remind us of impressionist painting but there's no question that one of the great crowns of Napoleon the Third's rain and of Haussmann's reconstruction of Paris is the work of Charles Garnier and the Paris Opera it's unbelievably opulent there's colored marble and paintings and mosaics so this is Second Empire style at its height and I think what's important to remember of course is that this is a theater it was where the ballet where the Opera was housed until actually quite recently this ballet still continues here although the Opera itself has moved and of course there's a grand stage in fact you can just hear the orchestra practising as we speak and if you look at the roofline you can see that there is a raised area just in back of the dome and that's actually the pulleys for raising and lowering the scenery that protrudes out of the top that wonderful copper dome which is now that brilliant green is a false dome in that there's a second dome inside and between those two domes is the area that the great chandelier would be retracted into during performances that chandelier apparently weighs something like seven tons so you walked into this great for air and there's an enormous broad staircase with chandeliers and engaged columns plasters and a did sealing and a kind of series of arabesques that speak to the Second Empire style especially more this recruit leaner nature of the staircase the extraordinary and as you said opulent spaces that are given over for socialising before the performance during the intermission and after the performance is nearly as much as is given over to the stage the orchestra and in fact the audience in the theater itself which is to say the front half of this building is its own stage but it is the stage of the Second Empire what it does is it gives us a really good idea of how radical the guy was by going backstage by not showing us the public face by showing us the rehearsal rooms the dancers waiting their chaperones waiting you're absolutely right to understand the radicality of ducati one really needs to see the front of the Opera House and so all the formality all the pomp all the ceremony is given over to this sort of direct observation of these figures in far less than ideal position Digga of course also painted the front part of the house and he painted certainly the stage on occasion and there are those other wonderful paintings by America sat of the balcony and the women in the balcony of her sister for instance and that is another expression in a sense of the audience as showpiece the idea of giving us the unusual view when has a different perspective on the radicality of that approach although I think Garnier is in a sense responsible for that because if for instance we're in the grand foyer at the moment and if you look there are balconies that give you very particular but very radical views of the space from a variety of different angles and in the boxes the theatre itself is round around the back and the boxes are all giving you probably 180 degrees of different angles and so in a sense the architecture is speaking to these sort of shifting positions providing that focus on the individual bourgeois upper Buchwald's and individuals her point of view for instance every box has its own doorway every boxes were walled off from the other it's got curtains to draw back and so there is this notion of the bushwa and separate bushwalk experience you're absolutely right okay but there's no question that the entire building is in a sense you know it is for music it is for the movement of dance but it is really about seeing