AAC, CPA; TheCulturedTraveler and Unnamed Guest
So, our Paris adventure continued last night (Christmas) when we attended an opera at the Palais Garnier – Iphigénie en Tauride, by Christoph Willibald Gluck – preceded by dinner at L’Opera, the restaurant adjacent to the historic opera house. So adjacent, in fact, that you can enter the opera house from inside the restaurant – more about that later.
It had always been intended that there would be a restaurant adjacent to the Palais Garnier. But it took almost 140 years for L’Opera to be opened in 2009. The restaurant is where the original carriage entrance was located and patrons were dropped off to attend performances. While architecturally trendy and modern, L’Opera pays respect to its renowned neighbor. Additionally, due to the fact that the Palais Garnier is a national monument, the restaurant’s structure was forbidden from touching any of the existing wall, pillars or ceiling. The cuisine under the direction of Chef Chihiro Yamazaki is modern, yet classic, with an Asian influence. The menu also features many seasonal ingredients.
AAC, CPA arrives for pre-opera dinner
We were immediately shown to a lovely table and looked over the menu, as we snacked on a delicious amuse bouche, a truffled mushroom mousse. Here’s what we had for dinner:
Smoked salmon, black radish, red currant, pomegranate and lemony cream for me
Duck fois gras, apple and arugula jelly, gingerbread for AAC, CPA
Miso-marinated black cod, kohlrabi with saffron, daikon turnip for me
Beef tataki, small grenaille potatoes with lemon and thyme for AAC, CPA
Every bite was a taste sensation, generously portioned, very fresh ingredients, beautifully prepared, as you can see.
We opted to skip dessert, as we didn’t need a sugar rush before the opera, if you know what I mean. The cost of the above, with a large bottle of Evian, was just 100 EUR which, we felt, was a bit of a bargain.
CUISINE TIP: L’Opera Restaurant
From there, we went through a black door, down a corridor and, somehow, we were inside the opera house. What’s most interesting – although I probably shouldn’t share it with you – is that we somehow ended up beyond the point at which our tickets should have been scanned for admittance. I hope that no one will take advantage of this information – you know who you are!
Although we had been inside the Palais Garnier many times – in the old days, one could wander around unattended on non-performance days – we hadn’t been inside the building in about 12 years. As we had some time before the performance, we wanted to revisit this amazing building.
The world famous, Palais Garnier, home of the Opéra National de Paris
AAC, CPA somehow gets in without having to show his ticket
AAC, CPA in the grand foyer by the Christmas tree
The grand foyer and Christmas tree at the far end
The grand stairway leading to the main floor of the auditorium
AAC, CPA overlooking the grand staircase.
We had wonderful seats on the main floor, 8th row center.
AAC, CPA seated and waiting for the show to begin
The mylar show curtain, which reflected the auditorium.
The auditorium behind where we were sitting
More of the auditorium
The sensational Chagall chandelier
The Krzysztof Warlikowski production of Iphigénie en Tauride was a revival originally presented in 2006. It was a pretty wild affair, presented as a memory play as the now elderly Iphigénie recalls the events of the opera, which was a bit confusing if you weren’t familiar with the story, but never mind. It was very theatrical and entertaining in its unusual way. The performance was sensitively conducted by Bertrand de Billy, who we’ve previously seen at the Met in New York.
While the performance – the last of its current run – was warmly received, there were a very few unhappy attendees who felt it necessary to boo. I rarely approve of booing, but can sometimes understand it if the director and the production are so misconceived that showing displeasure should be encouraged but, in this case, it was unacceptable. I mean you don’t boo the chorus under any circumstances – they’re simply doing their job. There was no ambiguity regarding the principals, all of whom received deserved ovations.
CULTURE TIP: National Opéra de Paris
And, so, our magical evening at the Paris Opera came to an end. We retrieved our overcoats from L’Opera and called for our Uber. Upon entering our car, we glanced over our shoulders for one last look at the Palais Garnier as we headed back home to the Peninsula.