Hotels in France

Nice Opera House

The world of opera conjures up impressions of drama, fat ladies singing, emotion and fun. The opera in Nice, France has all of this and more. Some people's impression of opera are that it is a bit over the top and too overwrought. This is really not the case. Opera, like all arts, is a display human emotions, desires and needs. A good opera hall has to somehow be able to contain and express these qualities.

History of Nice Opera

Opera is an art form that developed in Italy towards the end of the XVIth Century. A hundred years later, it had spread to other European countries. The spread of it from Italy to here was assured by political events.

The County of Nice was part of the Duchy of Savoy. This area united with the island of Sardinia to become the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1720. Thus a major "trade route" for the art was born.

The origin of Nice's opera house goes back to 1776 when a wealthy noble family, the Alli-Maccarani's, obtained permission from the King of Sardinia, Amadeus III, to transform their old mansion into a theatre house. This was only a few years before the French Revolution.

Night picture of the Opera building in Nice

The first building on this site was made out of wood. As France modernized, many old buildings were torn down and rebuilt out of more solid materials. In 1826, the city of Nice purchased the theatre from the Alli-Maccarani. This was done in order to build an Italian-style opera house, befitting a growing city like Nice.

Architects and Architecture

Two well-known architects, Burati and Perotti, were chosen. The former was from Nice (Nicois), while the latter was of Turin. Their combined talents would result in a fabulous building.

Their design, in tune with their time, was a 4-floored hall without chairs. The main curtain beheld a portrait of Catherine Segurante, the heroic washer-woman. A giant window opened the rear to the sea. Sadly, a wall replaced the window in 1866. Only 15 years later, tragedy struck when the whole building was burnt to the ground.

It would take more than a year for a new plan and funding to be drawn up. A Nicois architect, Francois Aune, was asked to design it. He was a student of Gustave Eiffel. What you see today is his creation with or without a few changes. By 1885, he completed it and operas could be performed again in Nice. Supporting a metal beam structure are stones, bricks and lime. If you are sensitive enough, you could feel the clash of local Nicois with French traditions within a basic Italian style in which bays play a central role. Look at the ceiling, a brilliant painting of the Sun by Emmanuel Costa. There are also sculptures of the 4 Muses, which are; music, tragedy, comedy and dance. Finally, in 1902, the building was given its true name of Opera de Nice.

Some of the changes made since 1902 are a new entrance with its grand staircase, a smaller proscenium stage and the replacement of paintings by mirrors at the entrance. In 1993, the building was declared an historical monument. Enjoy!!!

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