The Opera is the largest theater for lyric opera in the world ( it covers an area of 120,000 square feet and can accommodate an audience of 2000 and 450 performers on the stage ).
Designed by Garnier and built between 1862 and 1875, it is the most typical monument of the era of Napoleon III. An ample stairway leads up to the first of the two orders into which the facade is divided, with its large arcades and robust pillars, in front of which are numerous marble groups. The finest is the one in front of the second pillar on the right: The Dance, by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.
The second-order consists of tall double columns framing large windows; above is an attic, with exuberant decoration, on which the flattened cupola rests. The interior is just as highly adorned: its great staircase is enriched by marbles, the vault is decorated with paintings by Isidore Pils and the hall has a large fresco by Marc Chagall ( 1966 ).
The Opera also stands at the beginning of the Boulevard des Capucines, so-called because near here stood a convent of Capuchin nuns. At no. 28 is the Olympia, the famous music hall; at no. 14 an epigraph recalls that here on 28th December 1895., the Lumiere brothers projected a film for the first time in public.
On the footpath here in 1842, in front of what is now the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Stendhal collapsed after an apoplectic stroke. At no. 24 is the Cognacq-Jay-Museum. The building belonged to E. Cognacq, founder of the Samaritaine stores. The museum contains a collection of paintings, sculptures, and works of art from the 18th century. It includes paintings by Canaletto, Guardi, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Boucher, Chardin, Fragonard, Rubens, and Rembrandt.