Opera Library and Museum in Paris

The library-museum in the Opéra Garnier is one of the public sites of the French National Library (Bibliothèque National de France or BnF). It is located in the Rotonde de l’Empereur, the west pavilion adjoining the main façade, which as the name implies was originally intended for the use of the Emperor Napoléon III, aka Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1808–1873), the nephew of Napoléon I.

Unfortunately (for him) the Empire was overthrown in 1870, five years before the completion of the building, so this pavilion was never fully completed and the dressed blocks of stone can still be seen as they were in 1870.

The library-museum in the Opéra Garnier

The main purpose of this library is to conserve documents of the history of the Paris operas from 1669 to the present, but they also have numerous historical items on display.

Rigoletto stage set and historical costumes

Here on the left is a model of the stage set for Verdi’s Rigoletto, from the opera house in Monte Carlo, January 29, 1881. On the right is part of a display of historical opera costumes.

Bust of Jacques Rouché

Jacques Rouché (1862-1957) was the general director of the Paris opera from 1914 to 1944. Because he stayed at his post and kept the opera running during the German occupation, Rouché was long suspected of being a Nazi collaborator, though he was totally exonerated in 1951. In the summer of 2007 the library-museum was showing an exhibition on his life and work.

In the Opéra Garnier

Access to the library-museum is included in the visitor’s ticket for admission to the public areas of the Opéra Garnier (daily from 10:00 am).

Location, aerial view and photo of the Opéra Garnier on monumentum.fr.

My photos in this post are from 2007 and 2017. I revised the text in 2018.

The other public sites of the French National Library are the Richelieu-Louvois Library, the François Mitterrand Library and the Arsenal Library (all in Paris) and the Maison Jean Vilar in Avignon.

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