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Stripping away the Rococo Excesses-The opera of Ange-Jacques Gabriel

Opera House of Gabriel-opening night, 1770

When you enter the Opera you walk through a monochromatic stone corridor, all light limestone. As you enter the opera, the display of texture and color is almost too beautiful and luminous to take in. The opera house dazzles in its celebration of wealth and power. Now imagine, if you will, the courtiers in their painted silks, handsome fabrics, fantastical hairstyles, walking through this monochromatic corridor and then joining the blue and brown and pink and cream and gold finished walls, the bearskin carpet and the 3000 candles on crystal chandeliers reflected hundreds of mirrored surfaces. If Gabriel has straightened his line and eliminated the shell work, it was not towards austerity that he directed his audience. #


  1. Marjorie Eddy says:

    Ah, your metaphor! All is hollow! Your blog is fabulous! I am enjoying it so much. I love learning about Gabriel’s theater, imagining myself walking through the stone corridor, amongst the courtiers in their painted silks . . . to be dazzled by all that light and color, and thinking about the fall of the monarchy. The photographs are wonderful – a completely open pit! And I’ve listened again and again to the snatch of Labelle singing in your earlier entry. I’m glad you included it. I can’t wait to hear the whole recording.

    Thank you!

    I hope the rehearsals are going well.

    Marjorie Eddy (Alexandra’s mother)

  2. jane levy troy says:

    So the opera house opened after the Monsigny opera was written!!

    • Yes. This opera comique was very popular and was performed in Vienna. It is very possible that Marie Antoinette heard it there before coming to Paris and Versailles. She performed it in 1780 at her very much smaller but equally remarkable private theater just near the Petit Trianon.

  3. jane levy troy says:

    Do you know if there was a “popular” audience outside of Versailles (“ordinary” folks, city folks probably) or only royalty, as at Versailles?

  4. Mark Evans says:

    Thank you Andrew. You have given voice and clarity to my experience.


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