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Opera National de Paris

August 31, 2014 — 42 Comments

Outside The Opera National de Paris ( The Palais Garnier )


The Grand Staircase

The Palais Garnier is a magnificent building which seats 1979 people and was built between 1861 and 1875 for the Paris Opera. The architecture is in the Baroque style and designed by Charles Garnier who won the opportunity to design the new Opera House in a competition, (the project was designed by Napoleon III). It is situated at 8 rue Scribe, Place de l’Opera a stroll away from the Louvre and it’s ranked 4th out of 752 places to visit by tripadvisor. The interior is as stunning as the exterior complimented by its spectacular gold statues that glinted in the summer sunshine.


Such Beauty In The Fabulous Anti Rooms And Corridors

We did a self-guided tour which costed 10 euros for an adult and 6 euros for a student aged 10-25 years. There was an opportunity to be included in a tour party but I prefer to explore at my own pace and and admire all the intricacies with my family.

There is a very unusual modern ceiling painting in the theatre itself called the Chagall Ceiling.


The Chagall Ceiling

We saw interesting model set designs in display cases and costumes and an outdoor balcony which leads off from the lavish corridors.


This Was One Of The Model Sets For A Performance Of Othello

The opera house is the setting for the romantic Gothic love story “The Phantom Of The Opera” which was written in 1910 by Gaston Leroux. It is said that on his death bed Leroux exclaimed that the opera ghost on which he based his story actually existed.


Though there is not a lake under the opera house there is a stone clad water tank that was built to stop the foundations from flooding, but I like to believe that there is a watery labyrinth deep under the opera house.


The Phantoms box was box number 5 but we stood at the box with our age on the door and managed to get inside one deep with red velvet furnishings, photographs just don’t do the place justice.


Most operas are now performed in the more modern Opera Bastille which seats 2700 and was opened in 1989 but I do hope that they keep performing opera as well as ballet productions in this beautiful building for many years to come.

A Little Extra Research

I must admit that looking a little closer at the legends surrounding the Opera Garnier felt a little like searching for Father Christmas. I am a romantic at heart and I like to imagine that the rumours surrounding the story of “The Phantom Of The Opera” were real and that the world of opera and romance continue to be entwined within this beautiful building.

I checked out several websites and as my French is not good enough to understand the original Parisian sources I can only relate the information that I found.

There is an underground “lake” beneath the opera house but unfortunately it is not the mysterious underground labyrinth that I had imagined. It is rather the result of the Architect’s imagination, Charles Garnier, who encountered high levels of ground water on the site. He tried using wells and steam pumps to drain the foundations but failed to dry out the site. So instead he decided to use the water and by building a large stone tank called a “cuve” to collect the water he was able to add extra stability to the foundations of the grand building. After completion the large tank provided the Paris fire department with a ready supply of water in the case of fire and is still checked every month by fire fighters.

On May 20th 1896 an incident occurred in the Opera Garnier which could have inspired Leroux when reseraching for his story. At 8:57 pm during a performance of “Helle” two counterweights fell from the chandelier which led to the death of one audience member and injured many others. There is an excellent blog post here if you want to read about the incident which I found fascinating. It also explains why there was so much controversy over the final repair and repainting of the ceiling surrounding the original chandelier.

I really enjoyed reading a little deeper into the history of the Opera Garnier but just like Father Christmas maybe some things are best left to our imaginations.

Tonight’s post is only a short one as my brother Matt is coming home tonight as it is his birthday later this week and I am looking forward to spending some time with him.:)

Here is a video of my performance of “Wishing You were Somehow Here Again” from “The Phantom Of The Opera” which I hope will give you a flavour of the concert.

I had such a wonderful time last Sunday performing with the Tideswell Male Voice Choir at Gawsworth Hall. It was great to perform again with the choir who always make me feel so welcome, especially Dennis Kay ( the musical director ) who makes this all possible

The Tudor house and gardens provided an incredible setting for the concert and I want to say a big thank you to Christopher Ellis ( keyboards ) and Derrick McGill ( percussion ) for the truly atmospheric accompaniment.

Chris And Derrick


“One Voice” – the opening song from the concert

I found out that we had a professional photographer in the audience last Sunday who has kindly allowed us to use some of the pictures that he took.

Here is a picture of Matthew Mellor performing “Master Of The House” from “Les Miserables”. It was great fun to join in with the rest of the choir to help set the scene

Photograph by Simon Bull Images



August 11, 2014 — 51 Comments

What a whirlwind of a day yesterday at the beautiful Gawsworth Hall Theatre. This beautiful ancient Cheshire Manor House with its Tudor courtyard forms the backdrop for the venue. Fortunately the Grandstand and performers areas are covered and protected from most of the elements; however it rained throughout the rehearsals as we caught the tail end of hurricane Bertha 🙁


I began my day at 8am by having a good breakfast following which a skilled hairdresser looped my hair and pinned it into place ready for the performance that night.


This month I’d discovered that a friend from Tap class and High School had qualified as a beautician; Daniella is now working freelance and building her own business which I really admire. I hardly ever wear much makeup, usually only for stage work, or for special occasions, so consequently I’m not very experienced. I usually end up getting mascara all up my eyelids and if I’ve already put eye shadow on that’s a bit annoying, blending powders and not getting a chin line is a skill I’m still mastering and let’s not mention my attempts at eye liner! So I took the opportunity to have a master-class from Danielle ready for the performance, great fun and lovely to catch up.

You all know by now that I have a wonderful amount of support from my family and friends, yesterday my parents drove me to the event for 1pm for a meeting and full cast rehearsals. I got the opportunity to rehearse my first act songs, ‘Think of Me’ and ‘Wishing you were Somehow Here Again’ from the Phantom of the Opera with Christopher Ellis and Derrick McGill ( Des ) who provided atmospheric accompaniment including timpani, trills and skills. My brother Tom said that they added so much to the songs and he was really impressed.


The audience came dressed for the weather and were not put off by the chance of more rain .


It was great to see everyone was in the mood for a great show.


During my first solo song, “Think Of Me” from “The Phantom Of The Opera”.


Then with a cloak to help set the scene for my next song “Wishing You were Somehow Here Again” from “the Phantom Of The Opera”.


After the interval and a quick change I performed Eponine’s songs “On My Own” and “A Little Fall Of Rain” from “Les Miserables”.

Then good fortune shone down on us,the rain cleared up just before the performance, and although it was still quite windy the skies stayed that way until the end of the show.  On the way home the rain poured down for the entire journey with the roads flooding.

I loved that despite the weather people still brought their gazebos and enjoyed their picnics overlooking the beautiful lake, we’re hardy souls us Brits. 🙂

Click through to see Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s next events or you can see photos from last night on their Facebook page .

My next shows with the choir are on 8th November at The Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and 9th November 2014 at Buxton Opera House: ‘Never Forget’ A Remembrance Spectacular. Tickets