With over 180 performances a year by the Paris Ballet Company, you can catch a performance during a season that extends from September to July. Just being inside the gorgeous Palais Garnier or the modernistic Opera Bastille to see a classic performed of a masterpieces like The Nutcracker is a feast for the eyes that will stay with you as a dazzling memory. Discover what's playing when you're here, and be sure to book your seats in advance.
1. Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, in December… Choreography by Nureyev
2. Don Giovanni, September & October… Mozart in his full glory
3. Opera & Ballet at Palais Garnier…… Marvel at the this Belle Époque opera house
4. Performances at Opera Bastille… Grand opera at its grandest
Our favorite way of visiting the stunning Palais Garnier is by attending a ballet performance here. The building is magnificent when it's alive with people and performers. This season's ballet and opera performances include an evening of four works by Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian and a performance of Donizetti's opera, Don Pasquale. To ensure you get seats at a performance be sure to order your tickets in advance.
The national ballet company of France is known as Paris Opera Ballet. While most ballet performances in Paris are held at Palais Garnier, there are a number of performances staged each year at the national opera house, Opera de la Bastille, or simply Opera Bastille. As its name implies, though, Opera Bastille is best known for the operas it stages. This season brings a rare performance of Gounod's opera, Romeo and Juliette.
The oldest national ballet company in the world, the Paris Ballet is also one of the youngest. That's because the average age of the ballet dancers is just 25 years and, because they are civil servants, they must retire at age 42, even if they are at the top of their form. That doesn't necessarily mean their dancing career is over. Many dancers are invited as guests by other companies. For example, Nöella Pontois made her last performance in The Nutcracker when she turned 50.
Most of the dancers at the ballet come from the Paris Opera Ballet School and enter the company at the corps de ballet level of quadrille. Each year, there is a competition to fill the few remaining spaces in the company. The annual corps de ballet exam also allows dancers to move up the ranks of the hierarchy: quadrille, coryphée, sujet, premier danseur, and etoile. Currently, there are 154 dancers, 16 premieur danseurs and 16 stars.
Etoile, or star, is used to describe a principal dancer in many ballet companies, however at the Paris Ballet, it is a prestigious title, and is at the discretion of the director. An Etoile must have star quality, and possess a certain magic that makes you unable to take your eyes off of him or her.
Versailles with Priority Access + Gardens
Half-Day, Skip-the-Line Tour of Versailles
The roots of the Paris Opera Ballet go back to the dances and practices of court life of Louis XIV of the late 1600s. In 2013, the school celebrated its tricentennial.
Today, most ballet performances are held at the Palais Garnier, a magnificent theatre built between 1861 and 1875 by architect Charles Garnier. Its majestic gilt finishes and grand staircases were engineered to allow the rich and famous to admire themselves and others during the long intermissions.
A performance at the Palais Garnier should be on your short list of things to do. With over 180 performances a year, you can catch a show during their season that extends from September to July. Just being in the gorgeous Palais Garnier is a feast for the eyes, but add to that a performance by the top dancers in the field, and it will become a dazzling memory.
VIP Dinner Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens
Dinner Cruise by Maxim's of Paris
Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris is its official French name, and it can be quite confusing to distinguish between Paris opera & ballet — for good reason.
Since its beginnings in the 17th century, the name of the company has changed several times. In 1661, Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Academy of Dance). Then, in 1669, Louis granted permission to form a separate academy for opera called the Académie d'Opéra (Academy of Opera). The following year, that company added dance to the repertoire, calling it the Académie Royale de Musique.
In 1713, the Paris Opera Ballet School (École de Danse de l'Opéra de Paris) opened. A century and a half later, in 1875, the group moved to its permanent home at Palais Garnier. The majority of ballet performances take place at Palais Garnier.
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You'll want to look your best, as you are likely to be surrounded by chic Parisian men & women. Here's your chance to bring out your finest opera coat, shoes or pashmina shawl. Elevate your attire. Jeans & casual wear aren't your best choices.
Located in the 9th Arrondissement at Place de l'Opera, it is easily accessible by Metro & RER.
Located in the 12th Arrondissement, on the Place de la Bastille, it's easily accessible by Metro & RER
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