The Palais Garnier: Home of the 'Phantom of the Opera'
By Ye Qing
The Palais Garnier, historically known as the Opera de Paris, or simply the Opera, is a 2,200-seat opera house that is also a major landmark in the French capital. For locals, the ornate opera and ballet theater is as much a part of the city's cultural fabric as Notre Dame, the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. For others, it became known as the setting for "The Phantom of the Opera."
It is a masterpiece of Syncretism Architecture. The facade of the theater imitates the late Italian Baroque architectural style and is mixed with fussy carvings. It has a great influence on the architecture of European countries.
The Palais Garnier contains many details that you must not miss, including the Grand Staircase, Auditorium, and Grand Foyer. The opera house has 2,531 doors, 7,593 keys and six miles of underground tunnels. Its complex structure and long history provide it with plenty of mysteries.
The hall of the Opera Garnier in Paris, France. /VCG Photo

The hall of the Opera Garnier in Paris, France. /VCG Photo

As in "The Phantom of the Opera," there is an underground lake below the opera house. The architect Charles Garnier first discovered that the ground beneath the area was moist and water-rich, and took advantage of the situation and built a concrete water cellar to resist the pressure of water seepage.
Today, the hidden lake is closed to the public and serves as a fire reservoir. This provided space for the famous French detective and suspense novelist Gaston Leroux (1868-1927) to write "The Phantom of the Opera," also, the novel's subsequent adaptations in films and the popular 1986 musical. 
Apart from "The Phantom of the Opera," the opera house is best known for the masterpiece by Marc Chagall's painted on the ceiling. Chagall, who was born in Russia and came to Paris at the age of 20, once said that his art needs Paris as much as a tree needs water.
When he was asked to paint the ceiling of the opera house, he immediately agreed and took the opportunity to show his respect and enthusiasm for Paris without charge.
Painted ceiling in the Palais Garnier, 1860-1875, Paris, France, 19th century. /VCG Photo

Painted ceiling in the Palais Garnier, 1860-1875, Paris, France, 19th century. /VCG Photo

It is, of course, best to see the opera house during a trip to the city, but not all tourists have the chance to sit in the theater and enjoy an opera due to the schedule of plays and activities. However, in July 2018, Huawei announced that it would invest a total of 900,000 euros in three years as the first funder and the Palais Garnier to jointly establish the online platform of "digital academy" in 2019. 
According to the agreement, in addition to financial support, Huawei will provide technical support for the Palais Garnier in the form of free online platforms and online courses, which means that more people can enjoy the beauty of the Paris opera house from a distance.
The "digital academy" will provide better resource access and communication platform for students, researchers, young people, teachers, associations and groups who want to have a deep understanding of opera and ballet.
The "digital academy" is a technology-driven project that is now in the works. According to M. JP Thiellay, vice president and general manager of the Palais Garnier, China is a significant market for the opera house, which is planning a tour in China next year and will open a WeChat account that will be opera and ballet focused.
(Head image: The roofs with the side of a rotunda of the Garnier Opera. /VCG Photo)