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Paris: A travel guide for music fans

Visit destinations related to classical music and opera art. Get to know exciting ideas and background information.



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    Destinations Notre Dame and St-Sulpice



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    Parisian cemeteries include the graves of Auber, Bellini Bizet, Callas, Chopin and Rossini (Père Lachaise) as well as Berlioz, Offenbach (Montparnasse) and Passy (Debussy)-.



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    Three famous portraits of musicians are in the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre respectively, and a charming little museum gives an insight into life in the salons.



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    Four beautiful monuments, including the mystery of Chopin’s monument in Parc Monceau.



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    Two restaurant institutions that gained fame as literary cafés and artists’ restaurants. You can also see two famous dishes created for musicians in Paris.



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    Puccini’s famous opera is set in Paris. Visit the locations!



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    Listen to five pieces of music from opera related to Paris (Meyerbeer, Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bizet).








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The order of the musicians is alphabetical (Auber, Bellini, Bizet, Bruckner, Callas, Chopin, Debussy, Donizetti, Liszt, Lully, Massenet, Meyerbeer, Mozart, Offenbach, Rossini, Stravinsky, Verdi, Wagner).


Daniel Auber

A latecomer

Auber came to Paris at the age of 20 and pursued music as a hobby. Cherubini became aware of him and encouraged the talented musician, who took his time and began to devote himself fully to music only at the age of 37, at an age when Mozart, Schubert and Chopin died and Rossini decided to stop composing. His fateful meeting was with the writer and librettist Eugène Scribe, who later became the first industrial creator of libretti. Auber achieved a sensational success with his “Muette de Portici” in 1829 and, together with Gioacchino Rossini and Giacomo Meyerbeer, became the founder of the Grand Opéra. His second famous work, “Frau diavolo” became a flagship of Paris’ second grand opera the Opéra Comique.

Famous for the Belgian Revolution

The Grand Opéra (rue Le Peletier) fell victim to a fire and in his honor the street in front of its successor, the Opéra Garnier, was named after him.

His opera “La muette de Portici” gained fame incidentally for its role in the Belgian Revolution (click link for more info). [/sc_fs_faq]

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Vincenzo Bellini

The Triumph with “I Puritani

When Bellini appears in Paris in 1833, he is welcomed with open arms. Rossini helps his compatriot and the famous young Cristina Belgiojoso (whose family Bellini met in Milan) welcomes him to her famous salon, where he meets an incredible crowd of artists such as Chopin, Liszt, Rossini, Heine, Victor Hugo, George Sand and, and, and. Bellini enjoys the life in the salons and starts his last opera “I Puritani”, which becomes an unsurpassable triumph in the “Théâtre des Italiens” with the century cast Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini and Lablache in 1835.

The mysterious death

Bellini wrote “i Puritani” as a guest at the home of the mysterious Salomon Levy in Puteaux, near Paris, where he retired during the summer months. In the summer of 1835, the intestinal problems from which Bellini had suffered since 1828 intensified. Friends who wanted to visit him were turned away by the gardener. The friends organized the visits of official doctors who demanded admission and met a weakened composer. Despite treatment, his condition did not improve and again the ominous gardener denied access to visitors. On September 23, Bellini, who was only 34 years old, died, with only the gardener said to have been at his bedside. Immediately the suspicion of poisoning arose in connection with Levy’s financial machinations. Rossini pushed for an autopsy of the corpse. This well-founded autopsy gave amoebic dysentery as the cause, caused by inflammation and deposits in the intestines and a fist-sized abscess on the liver.

Museo teatrale alla scala Painting Bellini Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (1)

Hector Berlioz

The romantic story with Harriet Smithson

The 24-year-old Berlioz had been living in Paris for 7 years when he saw the Irish actress Harriet Smithson in a performance of Hamlet at the Odéon Theater in Paris in 1827. Although Berlioz did not understand a word of English, he fell madly in love with the actress. He wrote her letters by the dozen, but she did not respond.

When he moved to his apartment on Rue de Richelieu, he often saw the actress from afar, as she lived in the neighborhood. Berlioz took English lessons, but the Irishwoman spurned the Frenchman.

The romantic Berlioz saw only one way out. Namely, to write a symphony to musically describe the madness that raged within him. With the work, which he called “Sinfonie fantastique,” he wanted to win the favor of the beautiful. For the premiere, he described his longings for love in a program note, thus founding the genre of program music.

But Harriet, to Berlioz’s dismay, did not appear at the premiere, but was already back on the British Isle. It was not until two years later that things worked out. Harriet appeared for the performance in the Salle du Consérvatoire. Berlioz played the timpani with disheveled hair and fixed his gaze on the actress, who was sitting in the audience.

Happy End

What became of the couple, you may ask? Harriet was smitten and she fell in love with the romantic artist. The two married against the wishes of their families, the best man being Franz Liszt. A child was born, but the union did not last long; soon they began to quarrel and separated after a few years.

Berlioz remained attached to her and supported her until the end of her life. Years after her death, he had her reburied in Montmartre Cemetery, where he was buried next to her.

Berlioz 1832 Hector Berlioz Biografie Biography Life Leben Places Orte Music Musik Travel Guide Reisen Reiseführe

Harriet Smithson:

Harriet Smithson wife Ehefrau Hector Berlioz

Georges Bizet

He did not live to see the success of his “Carmen”.

Bizet spent his entire life in Paris and its environs, except for his stay in Rome (he won the Prix de Rome). The French capital, however, was not very favorable to his famous son, and Bizet could not bask in success throughout his life. Even the fame of his most famous work, “Carmen,” came posthumously. Bizet rented a house in Bougival to compose his “Carmen” in peace. However, the composition history of Carmen was anything but quiet, the house even became his death house. He died three months after the premiere, already at the age of 36, of his longstanding angina, embittered by the ungracious reception of his “Carmen.”

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Anton Bruckner

From Nancy to Paris

France was one of the few countries Bruckner visited outside the German-speaking world. In 1869, Bruckner made a sensational visit first to Nancy, then to Paris. The reason for the visit was the inauguration of the newly rebuilt Saint-Epvre church in Nancy. The jewel of the church was a magnificent organ made by the Merklin-Schütze company, which had previously won the gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair. Because the Austrian emperor donated to the church for family reasons, he sent the organ virtuoso and professor of the Vienna Conservatory Bruckner to Nancy for the inauguration of the organ. When he got off the train in Nancy, the gentlemen of the reception committee were somewhat surprised by the strangely dressed man in his mid-forties.

The organ god beguiles the women of Paris

Hastily they organized a visit to the French capital. Delighted, Bruckner set off on a 3-day visit to Paris, where he played at various venues. The highlight was the concert in the church of Notre-Dame, where the entire musical world of Paris sat in the pews. The great organists Camille Saint-Saens and César Franck were overwhelmed by Bruckner’s playing. Daniel Auber and Charles Gounod, who were present, also praised the Austrian’s arts. Bruckner enjoyed the recognition and stated with a wink: “And the ladies who listened to me all said tres, tres. And you know, they were clean!” (Here more about Bruckner’s strange relationship to women)

Anton Bruckner 1868 Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

Maria Callas

The last performance in an opera

Maria Callas debuted in Paris when she had long since become a megastar.

The 1958 recital at the Garnier was an event of the first order, and in the hall sat a man who was to change her life: Aristotle Onassis. A relationship developed, but to her disappointment Onassis did not marry Callas but Jacky Kennedy. In 1965 Callas sang an opera for the last time, it was Norma in Paris, with which she ended her career.

The last years in Paris

From then on she lived in Paris, although the projects of her last 10 years (film Medea, master classes in New York, tour with di Stefano) all took place outside Paris. Privately, she lived in seclusion on the Avenue Georges Mandel. Occasionally she is said to have been spotted with Onassis, who is said to have been unhappy about his marriage to Jackie Kennedy and died two years before Callas in a hospital in Paris, where she is said to have still visited him.

Maria Callas Sopran Opernsängerin Opera singer

Frederic Chopin

In the salons of Paris

Chopin arrived in Paris in 1830 at the age of 20. His reputation had preceded him and he was soon able to make a living giving piano lessons to wealthy piano students. His first public concert in the Salle Pleyel was enthusiastically applauded by the elite of the Parisian art world. Chopin excelled in the salons (but gave only a few public concerts, which took place in the two Salle Pleyel) and befriended many personalities of the Parisian art world, especially Franz Liszt.

Because Chopin gave few public concerts, he earned his living to a considerable degree as a piano teacher to the wealthy class. He was a sought-after teacher and could charge high fees to finance his upscale lifestyle.

He loved expensive clothes, had employees and his own carriage, and worked intensively on his works. In 1837 he had plans to marry Maria Wodzińska, but they failed due to her parents’ opposition. Thereupon he met George Sand, whom he initially met with rejection (“What an unsympathetic woman she is! Is she really a woman? I almost doubt it”), but she became his companion for 10 years, which meant a small scandal for Parisian society, since this writer was divorced and led an unseemly life.

Early death at 37

Chopin remained faithful to Paris until his death, but made important trips to Germany (where he met Schumann and Mendelsohn), to Carlsbad (where he saw his family again), had a winter stay in Mallorca (with Georges Sand) and various summer holidays in Nohan (with Georges Sand). The last trip took him to England with Jane Stirling and took its toll on Chopin’s fragile health. He did not have much time left after that. During a few performances at the beginning of 1849 he even had to be carried up the stairs and he died in the same year in his apartment in the Place Vendôme.

Frédéric Chopin Daguerreotypie Bisson 1849 Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

George Sand:

George Sand

Claude Debussy

Tragic love affairs

Debussy came to Paris at the age of 10 and attended the conservatory for 13 years. He was a difficult student, his personality was austere, but he had a great attraction for the female sex. Twice later relationships ended with suicide attempts (both times with revolvers) of his companions when they found out about Debussy’s love affairs. The second time, the victim was his first wife and it became a gigantic social scandal that temporarily drove Debussy and his later second wife, Emma Bardac (also married), out of Paris. Debussy remained faithful to Paris with interruptions and premiered most of his works here; his only opera “Pélléas et Melisande” was successfully premiered at the Opéra Comique in 1902.

With his beloved daughter

In 1905 his beloved daughter “Chochou” was born, to whom he dedicated his “Children’s Corner”. She tragically died at an age of 14.

Debussy with Chou chou:

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Gaetano Donizetti

Donizetti conquered the opera city of Paris

In 1835, Donizetti had visited the city for the first time at Rossini’s invitation, and his works enjoyed growing popularity. His first major highlight in the French capital was his triumph with the French version of “Lucia de Lammermoor” in 1837, after which Donizetti took the city by storm. If he began his Paris career at the Théâtre des Italiens, after 1837 he expanded his activities to the Grand Opéra and the Théâtre de la Renaissance.

With the “Fille du régiment” he took the fourth and last bastion of the Paris opera scene, the Opéra Comique. This led to Donizetti being able to realize opera projects in all four of the city’s opera houses in 1840/1841! Hector Berlioz wrote jealously in a newspaper: “Mr. Donizetti seems to want to treat us like a conquered country, it is a real war of invasion. We will no longer be able to speak of the lyric theaters of Paris, but of Donizetti’s theaters!” Donizetti was capable of writing simultaneously in four different styles for each theater, a true musical chameleon! He was at the peak of his creative powers and the greatest active opera composer in the world.

He wrote the unofficial national anthem of France

Donizetti wrote several operas for Paris, including “Don Pasquale” or “Dom Sébastien”, but his most lasting success was his “Fille du régiment”. The effect that opera, with its patriotic pieces, had on the French for decades is astonishing. It was on the schedule of French opera houses for many decades on the Quatorze Juillet and, like the Marseillaise and fireworks, was part of the national holiday. The “Salut à la France” was for a long time the unofficial national anthem of the French (see also the comments and the link to the “Salut à la France” below).

Tragic end

Saddening was the end of Donizetti. His advanced syphilis affected his health more and more, so that he had to be locked up in a sonatorium near Paris for 18 months. He was then taken to Bergamo where he later died mentally deranged.


Franz Liszt

As a child prodigy in the salons

Franz Liszt came to Paris with his father in 1823 as a 12-year-old child prodigy. The conservatory director Cherubini rejected his application because foreigners were not admitted to the conservatory. Liszt subsequently became an attraction in the salons as a child prodigy, and he made countless concert tours abroad with his father. Unprecedented failures as a composer and the death of his father on a concert tour plunged the 17-year-old into a severe crisis, during which he sought solace in faith and brought his compositional activities to a complete halt. At the age of 21, he met Marie d’Agoult, a married woman five years his senior. An affair developed in which Marie became pregnant and had a child. When the affair became public, it became a scandal and damaged the artist’s reputation.

In this period also falls the famous pianist duel with the other “piano god” Sigismund Thalberg. In a legendary “showdown” in the salon of the Princess Belgiojoso in the rue d’anjou 23 (no longer exists), she passed the verdict: “Thalberg est le premier pianiste du monde, Liszt, lui, est le seul”. (Thalberg is the first pianist in the world, Liszt is the only one). The couple escaped to Italy for a long time, and the two returned after two years. There Liszt made friends especially with Georges Sand, Frederic Chopin and Hector Berlioz and got acquainted with all the artistic elite of Paris. From the age of 30 Liszt visited Paris only sporadically.

Of the places where Liszt had worked, most have disappeared, one of the few being the literary salon of the painter Ary Scheffler, which has been transformed into a charming little museum called “Le Musée de la Vie Romantique” (see furhter below in the section “Museums”).

Franz Liszt 1843

Jean-Baptiste Lully

The founder of French opera

Lully (1632-1687) is considered the founder of French opera. Born in Florence, he was brought to Paris as a 14-year-old garcon de chambre to a noble house. He was a talented musician and very good dancer when, at the age of 20, he met the 14-year-old future Sun King Louis XIV. Louis was also a dance enthusiast and a friendship developed between the two. For the next 30 years, Lully was employed at court and made it to the position of “Secrétaire du roi”.

He composed popular comedies for the court, first in collaboration with Molière, and then (in collaboration with Quinaut) the first operas, the so-called “Tragédie lyrique”, in which chorus and ballet played an important role, but without castrati as was customary in Italy at the time.

The famous death

At some point, Lully fell out with the king, and Lully wanted to straighten out the relationship.He saw an opportunity, when the king had again survived one of his many cruel operations (depending on the source, it was after the removal of a fist-sized abscess on the buttocks or after the unsuccessful extraction of a tooth, during which the palate was torn out and the bleeding in the throat was stopped with a hot iron), Lully wrote a “Te Deum” for 150 musicians, and had it performed at his own expense in the presence of the king in a church. He saw an opportunity, when the king had again survived one of his many cruel operations (depending on the source, it was after the removal of a fist-sized abscess on the buttocks or after the unsuccessful extraction of a tooth, in which the palate was torn out and the bleeding in the throat was stopped with a hot iron ), Lully wrote a “Te Deum” as a mass of thanksgiving for 150 musicians, and had it performed at his own expense in the presence of the king in a church. While conducting, he rammed the two-meter-long tambour stick with its tip into his big toe. The toe became infected and Lully refused amputation and died of blood poisoning.

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Jules Massenet

Late success

Jules Massenet wrote 25 operas, of which “Werther” and “Manon” still have absolute world renown. To this list belongs also his Méditation from “Thais”, which belongs to the canon of famous works of classical music. Massenet came to the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11 and became a professor there at the age of 36. His academic success, however, came much earlier than his artistic one, for Massenet, born in 1842, did not write his first lasting success until he was 42 years old, “Manon.” It premiered at the Opéra Comique, while “Werther” premiered at the Vienna Court Opera due to the fire at the opera house.

Massenet spent his artistically essential years in the Greater Paris area (Avon, Paris) and in 1899 he bought a chateau in Égreville as a second home. He died in Paris in 1912, the Égreville cemetery at the family residence was chosen as his burial place.

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Giacomo Meyerbeer

The epitome of the Grand Opéra

Today, the name Meyerbeer is known only to the initiated in the art of opera. Yet for two decades he was the dominator of the “Grand Opéra” in Paris, the most important opera in the world at that time. His work “Robert le diable” (1831) was one of the founders of the Grand Opéra, which staged 5-act operas at gigantic expense. All the great composers composed for the Salle Peletier (burned down in 1873). The German-born composer came to Paris in 1824 at the age of 33 and wrote 4 works for the Opéra in collaboration with the librettist Eugène Scribe (in addition “L’africaine”, “Les Huguenots”, “Le prophète”). In the second half of his life he divided his time between Berlin and Paris.

Target of Richard Wagner’s frustration

Meyerbeer is known today mainly because of Richard Wagner, who tried unsuccessfully to place his opera “Rienzi” at the Opéra in Paris and turned to Meyerbeer. The latter put in a good word for Wagner (without success) and generously supported him financially. Wagner repaid him with vile slander and anti-Semitism in his various writings.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The glamorous visit as an 8-year-old

Mozart’s first stay in Paris was spectacular. On their great trip to Western Europe, the Mozarts visited Paris in November 1763, and by December they were admitted to Versailles (see also below). The second longer visit turned into the tragic opposite with the death of his mother.

Wolfgang and Nannerl gave a private concert to the family of the French King Louis XV as early as December and were even invited to the royal dining room (the grand couvert) on January 1. At their first meeting, the 7-year-old Mozart wanted to kiss the Pompadour, but she rejected the advances of the gallant young man. Mozart was irritated by this, because the Empress Maria-Theresia had not given anything in Vienna…

The tragic visit as a 23-year-old

Father Mozart wanted his son to find employment in Paris at the Palace of Versailles. Because Leopold did not get a vacation, Mozart set off for Paris in winter with his 57-year-old mother. Mozart, who didn’t speak a word of French, was rejected one after the other and waited in the unheated antechambers while his mother waited hungry in the unheated cheap flophouse. He could not understand why no one was interested in him in Paris anymore. A few compositions and piano lessons kept them more or less afloat. His mother fell ill and died in her son’s arms after a short illness. Alone, Mozart had to return to his father in Salzburg.

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Jacques Offenbach

From Cologne to Paris

Offenbach came from Cologne to Paris at the age of 14. His father wanted the gifted cellist to receive an education at the Conservatory. Paris remained his center of life until his death at 61. He stayed at the Conservatory for one year and spent the next 20 years as an orchestral and salon musician, building a rich network of contacts and writing his first small musical comedies.

Triumph and tragedy as entrepreneur and composer

At the 1855 World’s Fair, he saw his opportunity and set up his own business with the support of 15 financiers. There followed 15 years as an entrepreneur and composer with highs (the triumphs with “Orpheus in the Underworld”, “Grand Duchesse de Géroldstein,” “La belle Hélène,” etc.) and lows (the constant financial problems) until the Franco-German War briefly drove the German out of Paris. In the last decade he went on tours, including to the USA, to work off debts. His main artistic focus was working on “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” with which he tried to create a work for eternity. He did not live to see its premiere at the Opera-comique and died in 1880 in his apartment in Paris.

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Gioachino Rossini

He came to Paris as a theatre director

The 32-year-old Rossini took up the post of director of the Théâtre lyrique in Paris in 1824. His last position was at the Naples Opera, and he had recently married the former star mezzo-soprano Isabel Colbran. He wrote 3 operas for Paris over the next 5 years, including “Guillaume Tell” in 1829, which remained his last opera. Why, remains to this day in the dark. Was it his failing health that caused him to suffer from depression (he suffered from progressive gonorrhea), was it creative exhaustion after years of excessive productivity, or did he believe that his music no longer fit the times?

Guillaume Tell as his last opera at the age of 32

After his “Tell” Rossini was in negotiation with the Grand Opéra. A contract for 10 years was in the question, during which Rossini was to deliver 4 works and receive a considerable lifelong pension in return. However, due to a financial crisis of the state budget, triggered by the July Revolution, these plans evaporated after a lengthy legal dispute.

Marriage to a courtesan and salon life in Paris

Rossini subsequently commuted between Paris and Bologna, and in 1832 met Olympe Pélissier in Paris, a veteran salon courtesan seven years his junior. She had to stand on her own two feet early on and chose the path as a lover of wealthy men. They began a relationship in 1832.

However, the following Paris years were marred by Rossini’s health problems, which caused him chronic pain. More about this in the section on his spa stays.

He separated from his first wife and, after her passing in 1845, married Olympe, who, together with Rossini, ran the famous Samedi-Soires in Paris during the last 10 years of Rossini’s life (see below). Rossini had the status of an influential “elder statesman” and his “old age sins” of gourmandism and his sharp tongue became famous through all sorts of anecdotes (see the digression below with Adelina Patti).

Rossini finally died in 1868 at his home in Plassy as a result of an operation for rectal cancer. He was given a grave of honor in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Portrait Gioachino Rossini 1865

Olympia Pélissier:

Olympe Pélissier Gioacchino Rossini Paris

Igor Stravinsky

Stravinsky becomes a celebrity with the Ballets russes

Stravinski first came to Paris in 1910 for his “Firebird” for the Compagnie des Ballets russes. In the next years he came repeatedly back for his further projects of this ballet troupe of the Russian Dhiagilev.

The World War ended this phase and the Stravinski family spent the war years with their 4 children in Switzerland.

Affair with Coco Chanel

In 1920 Stravinski, who was in money trouble, moved to Granches near Paris at the invitation of Coco Chanel to her Villa Bel respiro. Coco Chanel had sat in the auditorium at the premiere of “Sacré du printemps” and met the composer. Chanel and Stravinski probably had an affair during his stay in Granches.

Difficult years

Stravinsky then lived in various places in France (among others in Biarritz) until 1936, when he took up residence in Paris on Rue Faubourg Honoré until the outbreak of World War II. He described these years as the saddest of his life. The family fell victim to tuberculosis. While Stravinsky had to be hospitalized for five months, his wife Katya and daughter Ludmilla died of this disease.[/sc_fs_faq]


Stravinsky with Sergei Dhiagilev, the impresario of the Ballets russes:

Diaghilev Igor Stravinsky Venice Venedig Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide

Coco Chanel:

Coco Chanel

Giuseppe Verdi

The theatre tyrant made himself unpopular with the French

Paris meant an important period of Verdi’s life. He often stayed in the French capital, among other reasons to meet his future wife Giuseppina in 1847, later for his opera projects, of which he wrote the “Vêpres siciliennes” and “Don Carlos” for the Paris operas, other works were given French versions (including “les Trouvères” and “Macbeth“). Verdi was at times obsessed with conquering Paris and replacing Meyerbeer as the “opera god” in Paris. His first attempt was “Vêpres siciliennes”, in which Verdi personally took care of the staging and in the process cemented his reputation as a theatrical tyrant; soon he was only called “Merdi” behind closed doors at the opera by the (unpunctual) french musicians.

After Meyerbeer’s death, he was commissioned to write a work for the Grand Opéra during the 1867 World’s Fair. The effort for the “Don Carlos” was gigantic. The fact alone that the theater had to sew a staggering 355 costumes for the premiere is proof enough.

Verdi’s relationship with the Parisians was divided. Early on he was awarded the Legion of Honor, but he refused to take part in the procedure, calling it a muck, which was resented by the Parisians. In the 1950s, Verdi also had two sensational lawsuits with the French national poet Victor Hugo over the rights to perform the operas Ernani and Rigoletto, which were based on the Frenchman’s works.

Late recognition

Success came rather late and Verdi, at the age of over 70, accepted the award of Commander of the Legion of Honor and even dined with Napoleon III and Eugénie in their Compiègne castle.

Giuseppe Verdi Portrait

Richard Wagner

Wagner’s lifelong dream to succeed in Paris

Wagner’s lifelong dream was to succeed in Paris; it was almost obsessive how he sought recognition in the European capital of opera. No less than ten times he stayed in Paris for longer periods.

In Paris, during his first longer visit of almost two years, he wanted to stage his “Rienzi”. Meyerbeer, who was immensely successful in Paris, supported him, but his work was not accepted at the Opéra. Wagner showed no gratitude to Meyerbeer; all his life he accused the “Jew” Meyerbeer of ill-will. So he left Paris for Dresden.

In 1860 he made another attempt, but his artistic fortunes in Paris never recovered from the Tannhäuser fiasco at the Grand Opéra (see below).[/sc_fs_faq]

The famous Tannhäuser fiasco

In order to promote familiarity with his works, Wagner conducted three concerts of excerpts from various operas at the beginning of 1860. Among the audience were all the musical celebrities of Paris at the time, such as Berlioz, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Auber and Gounod. The response was extraordinary and Wagner, with the help of the wife of the Austrian ambassador, managed to get Napoleon III to order the performance of “Tannhäuser” the following year. What happened in 1861 went down in the annals of opera history. Wagner adapted the work to the conventions of the Grand Opéra; among other things, the Bachanale of the first movement was expanded with a ballet, and a French-language libretto was created. Wagner personally staged the opera, taking 164 rehearsals to prepare the sometimes overworked musical staff.

The day of the premiere

But the performances turned into a fiasco. The Jockey Club, a larger group of dandies, sabotaged the performances because they were accustomed to appearing only in the second act, when their mistresses performed the usual ballet. In protest that Wagner performed the ballet in the first act, they unpacked whistles and interrupted the play with noise and heckling. Deeply hurt and heavily in debt, Wagner ended the Paris adventure after three performances.

Richard Wagner jung young Portrait






Palais Garnier, Opéra Bastille, Opéra comique, Salle choiseuil / Théâtre bouffes-parisiens, Théâtre des variétés, Théâtre du Châtelets, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Philharmonie de Paris.


Palais Garnier

A theatre of superlatives

Because Napoleon III was assassinated on the street during a visit to the opera, he wanted an opera house built with a protected entrance. The unknown Garnier won the architectural competition for a new grand opera and carried out the construction work. However, the work was tedious and protracted. The groundwater in particular caused great problems. In fact, there is still a lake under the opera house today, which is regularly checked by the fire brigade. This lake and an accident that occurred in the opera house gave rise to the legend of the Phantom of the Opera.

The Opera House is the largest opera house in the world in terms of square metres.

The grand staircase is particularly spectacular:

Grosse Treppe Grand stairs Palais Garnier Paris Reiseführer Travelguide Classical Music Klassische Musik Oper Opera Kultur Culture

The chandelier in the auditorium weighs eight tonnes and the ceiling was redesigned by Marc Chagall in 1964:

Kristalllüster Great Crystal lamp Palais Garnier Paris Reiseführer Travelguide Classical Music Klassische Musik Oper Opera Kultur Culture

Grand Opéra

Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Grand Opéra

Rossini’s most important opera for Paris, his “Guillaume Tell”, was performed in the Salle Pelletier of the Grand Opéra. This gigantic Parisian institution was the most professional opera house in the world at the time. Unfortunately, this opera house can no longer be visited, as it too suffered the fate of a devastating fire in 1873, which raged for 27 hours and completely destroyed it.

On the orders of Napoleon III, a new theatre was planned and the Palais Garnier, which is still in use today, was inaugurated two years later.

The Fire of the Grand Opéra (contemporary drawing):

Grand Opera Paris Fire Rossini Travel reisen culture Tourism (1)

Opéra Bastille

A gigantic building with 2,700 seats and world-class opera art. It opened in 1989 for the bicentennial of the storming of the Bastille and since 1990 it has been the new Grand Opéra, replacing the Palais Garnier as the “regular” opera house.

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Opéra comique

A French institution

The Opéra comique (also known as the Salle Favart) is a beautiful historic theatre, and dates back to 1898. Both of its predecessors burned down, including the premiere theatre of “Carmen”; the fire occurred in 1887 and killed around 100 people.

A visit to the opera is highly recommended, it offers a top-class programme.

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Salle Choisieul / Théâtre bouffes-parisiens

The theatre where Offenbach’s CanCan was heard for the first time

Because the Salle Lacaze became too small and had the license only for smaller productions, Offenbach started to play a new theater, the Salle Choisieul, still under the brand “bouffe-parisiens”. There he achieved the fabulous success with “Orphée aux enfers”. The first work he had performed there was “Ba-ta-clan”, which with its orientalizing theme gave its name to the later Bataclan theater, but which is located elsewhere.

The theater has been changed, but it is still beautiful.

Théâtre bouffes-parisiens:

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Théâtre des Varietés

Where Offenbach celebrated his greatest successes

Offenbach later left the direction of the Salle Choisieul and brought his great successes with “La Belle Hélène”, “Grande-Duchesse de Géroldstein” and “La Périchole” (all written by Meilhac and Halévy) to the Théâtre des Varietés. The great star of these productions was “the Snèder”, Hortense Schneider, whose role as the erotic Helena in “La belle Hélène” was immortalized in Emile Zola’s novel “Nana”, which was a portrait of the mores of Paris in the 60s. The “Théâtre des Varietés” served as the stage for the novel. This theater is still standing, nowadays the program includes lighter fare such as musicals.

The theatre has been changed, but it is still beautiful.

Theatre des varietés Paris Jacques Offenbach Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Théâtre du Châtelet:

Where Music History Was Written I – The First Modern Ballet

In 1909, musical history happened in this theater: the modern ballet was born. In the theater, opened in 1862, the Russian impresario Diaghilev presented his “Ballets russes” for the first time in Paris. The stars of the Russian Mariinsky Theater, Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova danced under the choreography of Michel Fokine. Actually, at this time, the ballet is dead, frozen in her characters.

Fokine, Dhiaghilev, Stravinsky and Nijinsky reinvent the ballet

Fokine frees it from empty pirouettes, Dhiiaghilev unites it into a total work of art of dance, music and stage design, and Nijinsky becomes the “god of dance”. Parisian audiences go crazy for the ballets and dress extravagantly for the performances like the dancers on stage. Diaghilev discovers Stravinski and commissions him to write the Firebird (“l’oiseau du feu”) for the 1910 season (for the Palais Garnier) and Petrushka in 1911 (again at the Châtelet). Stravinsky’s music hits and the 28-year-old becomes a celebrity.

The Dancer of the Firebird:

firebird oiseaux de feu feuervogel theatre de chatelet Paris Igor Stravinsky Lully Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer (1)

Theatre Chatelet Paris Igor Stravinsky Lully Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer (1)

Théâtre des Champs-Élysées - The first piece of modern music

Sacré du Printemps: Stravinsky invents the music of modernity

For the 1913 season, Dhiagilev moves to the newly built Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The piece presented is Stravinsky’s “Sacré du printemps.” Already the theme of the ballet, a ritual murder of a young woman, casts its shadow. Fokin’s choreography, Nijinsky’s shocking dance, the costumes and, above all, the never-before-heard sound of Stravinsky’s music catapult the work into the modern age. The frenzy of the audience is gigantic, opponents and supporters hoot, whistle and get into each other’s hair during the performance, which turns into the biggest “theater scandal in history”. Only the conductor keeps cold blood and conducts the work to its end. The evening is nicknamed “Massacre du printemps”.

Sacré du printemps, Original costumes:

Théâtre des Champs-Élysées:

Theatre des champs elysees Paris Igor Stravinsky Lully Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer (1)

Philharmonie de Paris

The Philharmonie, designed by Jean Nouvel, impresses with its excellent acoustics and visibility – the stage is right in the middle. The journey is a little longer, it is located in the north-eastern corner of Paris (next to it is the Musée de la musique). As in the Lucerne theatre (also designed by Jean Nouvel), the roof is accessible and offers a beautiful view.

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Notre Dame

The organ of Notre Dame Church

Musically remarkable is the large organ, which goes back to the Cavaillé organ installed in 1868. Fortunately, it was not damaged in the fire of 2019. With its 8000 pipes, it is one of the most beautiful organs in the world and, a special feature, has an engine from … Rolls-Royce. It so happened that the general manager of Rolls-Royce witnessed the organ breaking down during a mass at Notre Dame. The generous man then donated a Rolls-Royce engine to the church!

Drop in on Sundays to see if there is a free concert at 16.30 (consult website beforehand).

Notre Dame Church, Paris:

Biografie Verdi Giuseppe paris


One of the great opera scenes takes place in this church:

One of the greatest scenes from Massenet’s operas takes place in the church of Saint-Sulpice. I am talking about the 3rd act of Manon, where first the priest pupil des Grieux sings his dream aria “Ah fuyez douce images” and after the appearance of Manon follows the great duet “N’est-ce plus les mains”.

Perhaps Massenet’s choice of church was inspired by Charles Gounod, his teacher at the Conservatoire, who had received the lower orders here.

A visit to this imposing church in the footsteps of Massenet is worthwhile, already the facade is imposing and the frescoes by Delacroix also. Heine and Hugo were married here and the church became famous at the latest with the filming of Dan Brown’s “The da Vinci Code”.

Église Saint-Sulpice :

Saint-Sulpice Paris Jules Massenet Manon Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (2) (1)






Versailles Castle, le grand couvert

Wolfgang storms Madame Pompadour

The Mozarts arrived in Paris on their child prodigy Western European tour in November 1763, and were admitted to Versailles as early as December. Wolfgang and his sister Nannerl gave a private concert for the family of the French King Louis XV and were even invited to the private royal dining room (the grand couvert) on 1 January. At their first meeting, the 7-year-old Mozart wanted to kiss the Pompadour, but she rejected the gallant young man’s advances. Mozart was irritated by this, because the Empress Maria-Theresia had not objected in Vienna

The Mozarts stayed in Versailles for 16 days, and the Palace of Versailles still counts this visit as one of the great moments of this historic building. The grand couvert can be visited at the palace passage.

Le grand couvert:

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Château Versailles:

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In a painting:

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Chateau Versailles, Music

La Sérénade Royales (Music and dance Versailles Castle in the style of Louis XIV): June – September

Opéra (in the opera house Versailles) September – June







in alphabetical order (Bellini, Bizet, Callas, Chopin, Debussy, Lully, Massenet, Mozart, Offenbach, Rossini)


Deathplace Vincenzo Bellini


Well, this place, where Bellini died in Villa Levy, no more deserves the name “destination”, meanwhile this section belongs to the greater Paris region and has turned into a faceless banlieue, dominated by traffic and ugly high-rise buildings. On the wall of such a skyscraper and in the midst of garbage containers, the composer was granted a memorial plaque model “very affordable”, on a street and in a neighborhood that bears his name.

Commemorative Plaque in Puteaux:

Paris Puteaux Vincenzo Bellini Travel Reisen Culture Tourism 2

Deathplace of Georges Bizet


The house is located directly on the Seine and Bizet, who was ill with angina, swam there, which hastened his death in this house. The future of the house is unclear, the municipality has so far managed to prevent its sale and is trying to create a music center out of it. Donations are welcome.
There is a plaque on the wall of this picturesque house.

Bougival - Maison-Bizet-Travel reisen culture Tourism (1)

Birthplace of Georges Bizet

Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne

Bizet’s birthplace still stands, it is located at number 26, a plaque commemorates the famous resident. This street in the Montmartre quarter became famous for Murger’s and Puccini’s “La vie de Bohème” and was still an artists’ quarter in Bizet’s time. Bizet’s father was a hairdresser and artist. A plaque commemorates Bizet.

Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne (historic picture):

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House of Georges Bizet

Rue de Douhai

Bizet’s wife Geneviève was a native of Halévy. Her father was Bizet’s piano professor at the Conservatory and her cousin Ludovic was co-librettist of “Carmen” and also of many of Offenbach’s successful operas. His wife’s family was wealthy and Bizet moved to the posh 22 Rue de Douhai in 1869, where he lived for almost 6 years. The house remained in the family for a few more years, Geneviève became a famous salon lioness and was immortalized by Proust in his epic poem “In Search of Lost Time”. The house later became a simple restaurant, then a brothel. Today’s use is a discreet nightclub, if you want you can visit the house from 18 o’clock…

House Halévy, Rue de Douhai:

Apartment of Maria Callas

36, Avenue Georges Mandel

allas lived in this apartment for the last 9 years of her life. An insight is given by the interview that Lord Harewood had made for BBC in 1968. She lived there in seclusion with servants and the two poodles. She died of a heart attack alone in her apartment on September 16. A plaque on the building commemorates the famous resident and a middle street of Avenue Georges Mandel was named after her (Allée Maria Callas).

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Callas in her apartment:

Callas in avenue Georges mandel Paris Maria Callas Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Apartments of Chopin

Various locations

In his 18 years in Paris, Chopin lived in 10 different apartments. Many of the houses are no longer standing.

First he moved into a small apartment in the Rue de la poissonnière. The house is no longer standing. An impression gives a painting of this street, which was made 3 years later.

Rue de la poissonnière, 1834:

rue de la poissoinière Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

Soon Chopin had some piano students from the better society and the income allowed him in 1832/33 to move into a more spacious, furnished apartment at 4,Cité Bergère, a beautiful enclosed alley. Today, number 4 is a hotel, Chopin’s appartent was on the first floor (in the photo on the right, the building with the beautiful iron portal).

Cité Bergère:

Cité bergère Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

From 1842-1849 he lived in Square Orléans. In this place lived many artists such as Kalkbrenner, Delacroix and Franchehomme. Chopin lived at number 5, on the first mezzanine. Near him, at number 9, George Sand lived until they separated in 1847. There are commemorative plaques for the respective residents on both buildings (access via Rue de Taitbout 80).

Square Orléans:

Square Orléans Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

Apartments of Chopin

12, Place de la Vendôme

When Chopin’s sister rushed to Paris to help her brother, they moved into a seven-room apartment together at 12 Place Vendome in September 1849. He was financially supported by his friends, especially Jane Stirling. His agony lasted a month. When he died on October 17, six friends sat around the bed. Chopin died of pericarditis caused by tuberculosis (as did many of his relatives, including his father).

The rooms were luxuriously renovated and are now used commercially.

place vendôme 12 Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

House of Debussy

Avenue Foch 80 (former Avenue Bois de Boulogne)

Debussy lived here from 1904 until his death. It was the villa of his second wife Emma Bardac. The house is located in a posh residential neighborhood and can not be visited.

Stravinsy in Debussy’s house:

Debussy avenue Foche 80 Stravinsky Paris Claude Debussy Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (2)

Deathplace of Lully

45 rue des Petits-Champs

In this house Lully died perhaps the most famous composer’s death in the history of opera ((While conducting, he rammed the tip of the two-metre-long tambour stick into his big toe). Lully had a large house built in the first arrondissement, where he lived with all his relatives according to Italian custom. The size of the building was supposed to demonstrate his wealth; Molière lent him 11,000 livres for the 44,000 livres building. In his time the house was detached, later houses were added. The facade is original, the interior (partly open to the public) has been heavily modified.

Hôtel Lully:

Hotel Lully Paris Jean Baptiste Lully Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (1)

House of Jules Massenet

48, de la rue de Vaugirard

Massenet’s residence is located here. He was a busy man, his day always began at 4 a.m., where he sat down at his desk to compose so that he could find time to write his rich oeuvre in addition to his obligations. A plaque on the house commemorates Massenet.

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Deathplace of Mozarts mother

Rue du sentier

A memorial plaque commemorates the death house of Mozart’s mother in rue Sentier, but it no longer stands.

Memorial plaque, Rue du sentier:

Garrett of Jacques Offenbach


Jacques came to Paris alone and found a garret in an artists’ street and connections with German emigrants. He lived there from 1833 until his marriage in 1845. Heinrich Heine, also a Rhinelander, lived at number 23 for 18 months in 1838. Whether the two ran into each other is not known. The house still stands, a plaque commemorates the famous resident.

Paris rue des martyrs 23 Paris Jacques Offenbach Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Rossinis Salon and Apartment

Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin

This was the place where the famous “Samedi Soires” took place, Rossini’s musical salon, where all the musical celebrities met to make music, listen and discuss. The events, organized by Rossini’s second wife Olympia, saw regular guests such as Saint-Saens, Auber, Meyerbeer, Gounod, Bizet, Liszt, and others. Rossini also composed small occasional works (his so-called “Péchés de vieillesse”, sins of old age) for these occasions, with which he also occasionally teased his guests.

Wagner visits Rossini

In March 1860, a remarkable incident took place at this address. The 47-year-old Richard Wagner visited the 68-year-old Rossini. Michotte, Rossini’s adlatus, carefully noted the content of the conversation. He reported that most of the conversation revolved around the reform of European opera. From this a small anecdote: “Richard Wagner (who was not a Rossini devotee) praised Rossini’s apple-shot scene from ‘Guillaume Tell’ to the skies, and he advocated declamation as the music of the future, while Rossini advocated melody. Wagner cleverly cited Rossini’s ‘Sois immobile’ from his ‘Tell’ as an example. To this Rossini said with a smile: ‘So this is how I wrote music for the future without knowing it?'”

At the bottom you will find a musical excursion to “Sois Immobile” with a link to listen to it.

The building still stands and a commemorative plaque can be spied between two balconies on the second floor.

Rue_de_la_Chaussée_d'Antin,_2 Paris Rossini Travel reisen culture Tourism (1)

Deathplace of Rossini


Rossini lived in a villa on the edge of Passy Park in the 16th arrondissement during the summer months from 1857 onwards. He died there in 1868. The house is now no longer standing, the exact location was 2, Avenue Ingrès.

Historical photo of the Maison Rossini:

Paris Maison Rossini Travel reisen culture Tourism

Rossini in Passy, 1862

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Parisian cemeteries include the graves of Auber, Bellini Bizet, Callas, Chopin and Rossini (Père Lachaise), as well as Berlioz, Offenbach (Montparnasse) and Passy (Debussy).


To the travel map with the locations of the graves in the Père Lachaise cemetery (Zoom-In)


Père Lachaise: Daniel Auber

Auber died in the turmoil of the Paris Commune; his grave is in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Auber’s tomb:

Père-Lachaise Paris Daniel Esprit Auber Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Père Lachaise: Vincenzo Bellini

In 1835 Bellini was honored with great sympathy at a state funeral in the Invalides Cathedral and laid to rest in the Père Lachaise. Giulia Grisi, who had sung in the triumphant “I Puritani” only 8 months earlier, sang the Lacrimosa to the tune of “Credeasi misera” from “I Puritani” and 350 choristers sang pieces by Bellini. He was buried in Section 11, where 14 years later and only a few meters away, Frédéric Chopin, who also died young, would be buried. In 1876 Bellini’s body was transferred to Catania, but the grave was kept.

Bellini’s Tomb:

Paris pere lachaise tombe Vincenzo Bellini Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Père Lachaise: Georges Bizet

Bizets was buried in this famous cemetery at Division 68, No. 101. The tomb was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Garnier Opera House in Paris. In 2006 the beautiful bust was stolen. It has since been recovered and is in the possession of the cemetery.

Georges Bizet’s tomb (historic Picture):

Bizet Pere Lachaise Georges Bizet Paris Travel Reisen Culture opera Tourism

Père Lachaise: Maria Callas

After burial in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Agios Stephanos on Rue Georges-Bizet, the ashes were interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in eastern Paris. The urn was first stolen and recovered and the ashes were scattered over the coast of the Aegean Sea in accordance with her wishes.

Paris Pere Lachaise tomb grab Maria Callas Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Père Lachaise: Frederic Chopin

On Chopin’s grave Euterpe, the muse of music, is watching and crying in view of a broken instrument. The monument is by Auguste Schlésinger, husband of George Sand’s daughter Solange.

His heart was taken from his body before burial, which his sister smuggled to Poland.

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Père Lachaise: Gioachino Rossini

Rossini’s body was buried alongside Chopin and Bellini at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris after a solemn funeral. In May 1887, his remains were transferred to Florence.

His honorary grave is located in Division 4.

Paris Pere Lachaises Tomb Grab Gioachino Rossini Biografie Biography Life Leben Places Orte Music Musik

Montparnasse: Hector Berlioz

Berlioz’s simpler tomb was later replaced by a more monumental version.

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Montparnasse: Jacques Offenbach

In 1880 Offenbach was buried here, among others Hortense Schneider was present at the funeral.

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Passy: Claude Debussy

Debussy’s grave is in this cemetery of celebrities near the Trocadéro, with a beautiful view of the Seine. Debussy died in 1918 of colon cancer, which was diagnosed in 1909 and made his life increasingly difficult.

When Debussy died on March 26, Paris was under fire and only a small funeral procession could accompany him to the cemetery.

Debussy cimetiere passy tombe grave Grab Paris Claude Debussy Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (2)










Musée de la vie romantique:

Life in the Salons

This house is one of the rare contemporary witnesses of the world of Parisian salons. In this house the artist Ary Scheffer received the artistic and literary society, such as Chopin, George Sand, Liszt, Rossini, Delacroix, Pauline Viardot and many others. The house shelters on the lower floor an apartment arranged with furniture from the estate of George Sand, on the upper floor there is a furnished salon, as well as an art exhibition of the painter.

musee de la vie romantique interieur Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

A look inside the museum:

Museé de la vie romantique, Paris, France


Chopin Portrait by Eugène Delacroix

This painting of Chopin was painted by the famous painter Eugène Delacroix, whom Chopin had met through George Sand. This portrait is taken from a larger portrait. Originally Delacroix had painted a scene with Chopin at the piano and George Sand next to him, but he cut the painting apart, expecting to get a higher price if he could sell two paintings. The large remainder of the painting could not be found. The portrait of Sand hangs in a Copenhagen museum.

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Musée d-Orsay

Portrait of Debussy by Baschet

Marcel Baschet portrayed Debussy in 1884 during Debussy’s stay in Rome. It shows a slightly sullen and melancholic-serious young man (Debussy was 22 years old) whose personality remained “difficult and impenetrable” throughout his life.

Musee d'Orsay PortraitClaude Debussy Marcel Baschet 1884 Paris Debussy Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (2)

Musée d-Orsay

Portrait of Wagner by Renoir

Renoir was an ardent Wagner supporter and his desire was to portray the master. In 1882 he succeeded in Palermo, shortly after Wagner had completed his last work, “Parsifal” and a few months before his death. Renoir was given half and half a sitting. Wagner appeared exhilarated, but the picture relentlessly shows the face of a tired man, marked by illness.










Café de la Paix:

Artist Restaurant

This traditional, upscale restaurant from 1862 is located opposite the Opéra Garnier, making it a frequented restaurant for artists such as Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Massenet and Dhiaghilev. The furnishings and décor of the restaurant are in the prestigious Second Empire style.

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La Procope

One of the oldest café-restaurants

The Procope is a 17th century institution with a rich tradition. It was one of the first coffee houses. It became a literary and political café in the 18th century (Voltaire and Rousseau) and many writers and artists frequented it in the 18th century. George Sand visited the Procope several times in the company of Frederic Chopin.

Today it is a refined but cosy restaurant with an interior reminiscent of the old days, offering French specialities such as calf’s head.

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Hotel Ritz

Callas at the Ritz

Callas stayed at the Ritz several times during engagements in Paris. After its reopening, the hotel renovated a mansard suite where she stayed into the Maria Callas Luxury Suite, which can be booked.

Suite Maria Callas:

ritz-paris-hotel-suite-maria-callas Paris Maria Callas Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Callas at the Ritz:

Callas im Ritz Paris Maria Callas Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Poire belle Hélène

Created for the famous “Snèder”

The famous ice cream specialty “Poire belle Hélène” was invented by the equally famous chef Auguste Escoffier in his youth (at least that’s what he claimed). Escoffier was an opera fan (he later created pêche melba for Nelle Melba) and was working in Montmartre at the time and was inspired by Hortense Schneider to create this dish, which then found its way into his renowned guide culinaire. Look for a restaurant that offers this delicious dessert.

Poire belle Hélène:

poire belle helene escoffier Paris Jacques Offenbach Travel Reisen Culture Tourism

Peeled pears poached in sugar, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce

Hortense Schneider (Painting):

hortense schneider Paris Jacques Offenbach Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (1)

Tournedos Rossini and the Restaurant Dorée

This restaurant was a famous and expensive restaurant on the Boulevard des Italiens. Rossini was a frequent guest and the chef Casimir Moisson created here the dish “Tournedos Rossini” for the gourmet Rossini at his suggestion. Escoffier later immortalized it in his famous “guide culinaire”.

The restaurant has not existed since 1906, the building still stands but now houses the French Post Office.

The historic Maison Dorée:

Paris Maison_Dorée Rossini Travel reisen culture Tourism (1) (1) (1)

Tournedos Rossini

Tournedos Rossini Maison Dorée

Fillet of beef, foie gras, truffle, Madeira sauce









La Madeleine

Chopin’s Funeral

After his death, Chopin was laid out in the Madeleine. 3,000 mourners came to bid him farewell. At Chopin’s request, the Préludes in E minor and B minor, among others, were played, as well as Mozart’s Requiem at the end.

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Chopin monument in Parc Monceau

The mysterious woman at his feet

There is an interesting monument from 1906 in Parc Monceau. It shows the composer with (presumably) the famous Jenny Lind at his feet. Jenny Lind became one of the greatest singers in the forties and met him on his London trip. She seems to have fallen in love with him and hoped to marry him.

Chopin Monument Parc Monceau:

Sie scheint sich in ihn verliebt zu haben und hoffte auf eine Heirat (She probably also had an affair with Felix Mendelssohn a little later …)

Chopin Monument Denkmal Parc Monceau Paris Frederic Chopin Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera (1)

Strawinski fountain

Designed by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle

The Stravinski Fountain is a striking and popular photo subject in the Igor Stravinski Square at the Centre Georges Pompidou. It was designed by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle and installed there in 1983. It consists of more than a dozen figures animated by water, all of which have a reference to Stravinski and his work, such as a firebird.

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Massenet monument in Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg houses a total of 106 statues, one of which is dedicated to Massenet, at the southwest part of the garden.

Jules Massenet monument Palais Luxembourg Paris Travel Reisen Culture Tourism (2)







More about the opera “La Bohème” of Puccini



Based on a novel by a true bohemian

The material of “Bohème” was based on a serialized novel that appeared in a Parisian magazine in 1843. Henri Murger described the lives of artists in the artists’ quarters on Montmartre and in the Quartier latin. The characters he described in the novel were for the most part real. For Puccinis Opera, the librettist Illica and Giacosa made adjustments, such as adding the person of Mimi, who does not appear in the original story in this way. Also, the protagonists in Murger’ original were named differently, probably because names such names as “Jacques” were simply unsuitable for the music.

Henri Murger

Murger Henri Scene de la vie de boheme

Based on a novel by a true bohemian

Puccini felt reminded by Murger’s novel of his own meager student days in Milan and felt inspired for his music . Puccini was an admirer of Bizet’s Carmen and modeled the Paris street scene of Act II on the bullfight arena scene in Seville from Carmen’s Act IV. Both had set a musical monument to the two cities, and just as Bizet had never visited Spain, Puccini knew Paris only from postcards. Thanks to Murger, we can still trace Puccini’s “La Bohème”.

Puccini 1876 Lucca Giacomo Puccini Biografie Biography Life Leben Places Orte Music Musik Travel Guide Reisen Reiseführer

Based on a novel by a true bohemian

Murger traced his own garrett from 1, rue de la Tour d’Auvergne in the Montmartre neighborhood. The street was busy with artists in his time and you can still re-dream the atmosphere with a little imagination.

Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne (historic picture):

Paris Rue de la Tour d'auvergnePuccini Paris Travel Reisen Culture opera Tourism

Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne (today):

Rue de la tour d'auvergne Paris la boheme Giacomo Puccini Biografie Biography Life Leben Places Orte Music Musik Travel Guide Reisen Reiseführer e

Barrière d-enfer

In the third act, Mimi passes the toll-gates of Paris where the customs house and the tavern are located. These two customs houses were two of the 57 gates built at the end of the 18th century. The two customs houses are still standing today, one is a post office.

Porte d’enfer (picture from 1901):

Paris-Barriere d'enfer Puccini Paris Travel Reisen Culture opera Tourism

Porte d’enfer (today, 2 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy):

Barriere d'enfer Paris la boheme Giacomo Puccini Biografie Biography Life Leben Places Orte Music Musik Travel Guide Reisen Reiseführer

Café Momus

The Café Momus existed, the creator of the novel, Henry Murger visited it extensively. It was located next to the church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. It was closed for financial reasons in the middle of the 19th century and a paint dealer opened his doors, you can see a historical picture below, the Momus is on the right, on the left you can see the back of the church Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. Today there is a hotel in this building. Puccini then moved the Momus to the Latin Quarter to the Carrefour de Buci.

Historical image Rue des Prêtres-Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois :

Batimen-Cafe-Momus Rue des pretres--Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois Puccini Paris Travel Reisen Culture opera Tourism









The Scandal of Carmen

The Wicked Gypsy

The role of Carmen became decisive for the story of its creation. The personality of this figure was unique at that time: an indomitable woman, erotic, temperamental, and a factory worker to boot. Moreover, vulgar and rebellious instead of romantic and patient. In short: the exact opposite of what was expected of a woman in the late 19th century. It sparked a heated debate in the run-up to the premiere. When the theater directors realized what a “monster” was approaching them, they tried to change the course of events. But it was too late. Even the planned leading actress refused to sing the role. In the person of Célestine Galli-Marié a suitable replacement could be found at short notice. The choice of the singer was and is crucial for success. The role is very demanding, it requires an erotic charisma, great singing skills, seductive dancing and acting abilities.

The premiere is too much for the audience

The first performance took place in March 1875, and the first act was warmly received. But the longer the work lasted, the frostier the atmosphere in the great hall of the Opéra Comique became. It was too much for the conservative audience. One critic wrote about the leading actress: “To see her swinging with her hips like a filly at a stud farm in Cordoba – quelle vérité, mais quel scandale” (Abbate/Parker, “a story of the opera”).

Listen to famous Habanera from “Carmen”

Fille du régiment of Donizetti

The Opera of the 14 juillet

The effect that opera, with its patriotic pieces, had on the French for decades is astonishing. It was on the schedule of French opera houses for many decades on the Quatorze Juillet and, like the Marseillaise and fireworks, was part of the national holiday. The “Salut à la France” was for a long time the unofficial national anthem of the French (see also the comments and the link to the “Salut à la France” below).

The famous patriotic occasion from afar

At this point, the name of Lily Pons should not be missing. She was one of the great MET divas of the 40s and 50s. French by birth and naturalized American, she became involved with concerts on the front lines during World War II. Her performance at the New York Met on December 29, 1940, after the occupation of Paris, became famous. With Roosevelt’s permission, she waved a flag of the French tricolor and sang the Marseillaise in a performance of “Fille du Régiment” . The audience stood up and enthusiastically saluted this patriotic act.

Salut à la France

Grand Opéra I

Meyerbeer – The ruler of the Grand Opéra

Interestingly, in the middle of the 19th century, the two most prominent Parisian composers were both German. Giacomo Meyerbeer was actually called Jakob and wrote six major operas for the Opéra between 1831 and 1865. These operas (Robert le diable, L’Africaine, Le Prophete, Dinorah, Etoile du nord, Les Huguenots) are hardly ever performed nowadays, the scenic demands are too gigantic.

Meyerbeer’s most famous piece is O paradis from the opera l’Africaine

O Paradis – Placido Domingo

Grand Opéra II

Verdi’s “Don Carlos” at the Grand Opéra

Verdi created this opera according to the standards of the Grand Opéra, including the requirement to create five acts, the price to be paid is that the audience has to spend five hours in the theatre, including stage alterations. The costly play for the grand opéra was only affordable for the major theatres of Paris. To keep the suspension high over 5 acts, Verdi needed big scenes. So, he instructed his librettists to create big scenes which should complement Schiller’s drama. This Autodafe scene was one of them. Musically, Verdi underscores the contrast of solemnity and terror with a change from the major of the people to the minor of the monks – we are back in the chiaroscuro world of the church. The desolate monotony is followed by the beautiful painful singing of the cello group, which accompanies the monks begging for forgiveness.

Watch and Listen to the great auto-da-fe scene from Don Carlos (Metropolitan Opera New York)

Grand Opéra III

Wagner praises Rossini with ulterior motives

The 47-year-old Richard Wagner visited the 68-year-old Rossini in Paris. Michotte, Rossini’s adlatus, carefully noted down the content of the conversation. He reported that most of the conversation revolved around the reform of European opera. A small anecdote: “Richard Wagner (who was not a Rossini devotee) praised Rossini’s apple-shot scene from ‘Guillaume Tell’ to the skies, Wagner advocating declamation as the music of the future, while Rossini advocated melody. Wagner cleverly cited Rossini’s ‘Sois immobile’ from his ‘Guillaume Tell’ as an example. Rossini smiled and said: ‘So this is how I wrote music for the future without knowing it?'”

The scene of the apple shot: Gessler conceives the terrible idea that Tell should shoot the apple off his son’s head as punishment. When Tell refuses, Gessler orders the son to be killed. Tell throws himself pleadingly at Gessler’s feet, but the latter, laughing derisively, demands the apple be shot. Moved, Tell blesses his son. He is handed the crossbow and quiver and secretly puts a second arrow in his jacket. Once again Tell goes to his son and asks him to stand still and pray to God.

Poignantly accompanied by the solo cello, Tell sings the moving words. The baritone’s voice goes up to F (“Jemmy! Jemmy!”) to express the father’s pain.

Sois Immobile (Resta immobile):



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