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In addition to gambling, glamour and luxury, the Monte Carlo Casino houses the magnificent Salle Garnier, also known as the Monte Carlo Opera. Looking at the front of the casino, the princes’ entrance is located on the right-hand side of the building.
On its belle-époque façade, you will find numerous details that will fascinate you. From the allegories of dance and music over the door to the classical masks inherited from Greek theatre which represent Thalia and Melpomene, the muses of comedy and tragedy, respectively.
It is a stunning work that was designed and created by Charles Garnier, architect of the famous Paris Opera and the Observatory of Nice, among other famous works. Remarkably, the Monte Carlo Opera was built in just eight months and 16 days. But it did take more than 400 workers working day and night to finish it in record time and inaugurate it on 25 January 1879. The result is certainly absolutely spectacular.
If you are lucky enough to be able to enter and watch a performance here, take your time to admire this room which has a capacity of a little over 500. It is decorated in gold and burgundy and is full of stunning and exciting details.
Initially, there were five paintings by great artists here: music, poetry, song, comedy and dance, but only the last one remains located in a private room in another building in Monaco.
In 1897, major improvement work was carried out by the architect Henri Schmit. Work that Charles Garnier, sick in bed at the time, did not approve of and about which he wrote to the management of the opera expressing his discontent.
On the vault, you can see four exceptional paintings measuring 15 x 6 metres each. The one that faces the stage is Instrumental Music by Boulanger, featuring a winged woman as the conductor and players from all over the world. Over the princes’ gallery is the painting Song by Francis Fayen-Perrin. In it, we see the Greek poet Homer going from town to town reciting his poetry to all kinds of audiences. The one in the middle and on the right is Comedy by Frédéric Lix. It shows a seaside scene and depicts a young poet surrounded by the muses of inspiration, Bacchus, Fame with double trumpet, nymphs and a woman at his feet who could be Venus. Opposite, the final one is a work by George Clairin, who had worked with Garnier on the Paris Opera. The work is Dance and it depicts a scene with a winged creature playing violin music and shows the different forms of this performance art.
A few years ago, the Salle Garnier was completely restored preserving its original spirit. Interestingly, this restoration work took more than two years and ended in September 2005, but the official opening did not take place until 19 November of that year.
If you consult the works of the season, you will see that they are always first-rate. So do not hesitate for a moment and, if you have time and you can afford it, book your seat to enjoy the splendour of the Salle Garnier, and, of course, the performance.