In September 2011 I paid all of five Euros and got the next-to-last standing room ticket for the premiere of the opera Salomé by Richard Strauss (1864-1949). This was the first performance of the 2011-2012 opera season in Paris.
The standing room tickets are not sold in advance, but go on sale an hour and a half before show time. I arrived twenty minutes before that, and there were already two or three dozen people waiting in line at the door labeled places debout — which literally means “places upright”.
When they finally let us in we had to wait again until one of the two vending machines was free. A distinguished-looking gentleman in an usher’s uniform organized this and also helped people operate the machines, which were a bit finicky. (I think it would have been faster if he had just sold us the tickets by hand.)
The easiest and quickest way to coax a ticket out of one of the machines is to have five Euros in coins, which I didn’t have, so I had to use my bank card. The machines do not accept bank notes (not even five-euro notes) and do not give change.
(This was the procedure in 2011. Does anyone know if it has changed since then?)
There is one row of standing room on each side wall of the auditorium. I could see only about half the stage from there, but the acoustics were excellent. The house was nearly full, but not quite, so some of the people with standing room tickets managed to find seats that were not occupied.
Since Salomé is a relatively short opera it didn’t bother me to stand the whole time. It was a fine performance, with Angela Denoke in the title role. They sang the opera in the original German, not in the French version that I had seen in Liège, Belgium, three months before.
When you are up on the top floor of the Opéra Bastille you can step outside onto a terrace and look out over Paris, with views of the Panthéon, the Montparnasse Tower, Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2017.
See also: Guided tour of the Opéra Bastille
and: Ten days, eight operas, seven venues
3 thoughts on “Standing room at the Opéra Bastille”
They were building the “new opera house” when we lived in Paris so we only got to walk through the building and watch it come together. It was just down the street from us on Faubourg St. Antoine.
I explored the Faubourg Saint-Antoine a couple years ago and found the “Courtyard of the Shadoks” and a nice bookshop called Book Off.
It was a very interesting place to live way back then. I’m sure there are many changes but it will still be interesting.