Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

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Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:58 pm

The member Lady Castaigne at phantomoftheopera.com found articles in Le Figaro that described the accident at the Opera Garnier in 1896. These can be read at Gallica, link here to the page with the first article: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k283653v.image.langFR.

The second article is on page three in next day's paper.

For those of you who don't read French, here's a translation of the two articles. The accident of the falling counterweight is a real life incident that inspired Leroux in his "Phantom of the Opera", but through the years there have been various misunderstandings about it. If you read only the first article, you'll think that it was a counterweight to the actual chandelier that fell, but the second article corrects a piece of misinformation and reveals that it was a counterweight to the reflector above the chandelier, that fell.

Anyway, here's the contemporary account to an accident that happened over a hundred years ago, but that is so vividly described that it feels timeless.

You are welcome to spread information about the articles, if you wish, but please credit me with the translation, and Lady_Castaigne with finding the articles.

Article from Le Figaro, dated Thursday 21st May 1896

A terrible accident occurred yesterday evening, at the Opera, during the performance of Helle. It was exactly three minutes to nine in the evening. The first act was ending. Mme Caron had just sung an encore, when a tremendous noise was heard. At the same time, a bright light appeared, like a flash of lightning and a cloud of dust rose from the top of the room to the flies.

First, the explosion was believed to be some anarchist attack. Spectators rushed to the exit doors. But with admirable coolness, Delmas, Mme. Caron and chorus members who were on the stage remained in place, hoping by their calm to reassure the public. They succeeded to calm the spectators in the pit (orchestra) and on the first two tiers. But, above, at the fourth level amphitheatere which was nearest to the supposed explosion, the panic was considerable. The spectators were jostling each other even trying to climb over the balustrade to jump into the pit. Police officer Guida, no 158 of the ninth arrondissement, Brigadier Grimaldi of the municipal guards, the two guards Levesque and Durand, and the caretaker of the auditorium, M. Vallerand, prevented them and guided them to the exit door. Thanks to them no new accident occurred.

Meanwhile, M. Lapissida, stage manager of the Opera had very calmly withdrawn the personnel from the stage. After that he said to the public that they had nothing to fear, and then brought down the curtain.

The evacuation of the amphitheatre (Jennie’s comment: the fourth level of balconies facing the stage) took no more than two or three minutes, and once this was completed, the wounded were taken care of, for there people who had been injured. First it was found that five or six people complained only of bruises and severe concussion. They could leave the room to receive medical treatment. Hopes were rising that the consequences of the accident had not been too severe, when cries attracted the attention of one of municipal guards. He retraced his steps and found a woman under a beam/girder. It was Mme. Senot, grocer, who lived at Rue de l’Arcade no 12. She had been injured in the leg and the right eye from the breaking of the beam/girder, under which she was trapped.

At the same time, a young girl, her face all covered with blood, began crying for her mother, who she said was under the rubble. The search revealed the horribly mutilated corpse of an elderly woman lying in a hole in the floor of the gallery, covered by blocks of cast iron.
It was the woman that the young girl was crying out for, Mme. Chomette, aged fifty-six, a concierge at 12 Impasse Briare, 7 Rue Rochechouart.

While officers were searching to see if there were any other bodies, a fire was seen to have started in the roof. The firemen on duty, promptly assisted by the firemen from Rue Blanche soon overcome the fire.

Until now, no one knew what had happened and the cause of the accident. By removing the body of Mme Chomette *TEXT MISSING* (probably “on s’en”) this was discovered. It had been caused *TEXT MISSING* (prob: “par la chute”) by the fall of one of the counterweights of *TEXT MISSING* (probably ‘chandelier’).

*TEXT MISSING* in the central hall is supported by eight iron wires, each one the thickness of a wrist, and each attached to a counterweight weighing about 700 kilos. Each counterweight weighs this much so that if one or several of the wires break, the chandelier will stay suspended.

Now apparently, along one of these wires, running in a flue or shaft, was a cable for the electric light. Probably through wear and tear, a contact between the wire and the electric cable started a fire, and this fierce spark melted the wire holding the counterweight.

The huge mass, tumbled through the shaft, first smashing through the ceiling, then the floor of the fifth gallery, fortunately in a place where no one was sitting, and finally crushed seats 11 and 13 of fourth gallery occupied by Mme. Chomette and her daughter. It even demolished the parquet floor underneath them before it stopped.

It was also the fall of the counterweight that pulled the circuit breaker, and caused the outbreak of fire.

Mme. Chomette’s skull was completely crushed, her right hand and leg torn apart. Her body was carried on a stretcher by municipal guards preceded by the doorkeeper with his lantern to the Opera stop/station (for carriages), where a town ambulance waited, to drive her home.

Her daughter, who works in a restaurant (“bouillon” in the article also means broth, but in this context it’s a simple restaurant catering for the masses) was injured in the face, but her condition is not serious.

Sitting beside these two ladies, in seats number 7 and 9, were M. Guillaume Murvoy and one of his friends. M. Murvoy received a severe electric shock and fainted. He complained of severe pain in his right leg. When he regained consciousness, his friend had disappeared.

The other injured people, as we have said, had only contusions.

The news of this accident and the arrival of the undertakers (“pompes”) , called upon from all sides, had caused great emotion. The public were exaggerating the seriousness of what was already being called a catastrophe. A large crowd besieged the outskirts of the Opera and M. Nadeaud, peace officer of the district, had to organize a special group to deal with it. The crowd did not disperse until an hour later, when was learned that the accident was less severe and certainly less comprehensive/general than previously thought.

M. Lepine, Head of the Police, accompanied by M. Gaillot, director of the municipal police, arrived at half past nine. M. Lepine learned the facts from Mr. Martin, Commissioner of the “police de service” (Jennie’s comment: am not perfectly sure about the meaning of this term, it may mean “police on duty” or possibly “police particularly attached to the Opera”. All input welcome). He himself examined the place where the accident occurred to verify the causes.

By order, M. Martin went at eleven o’clock in the evening to M. Atthalin, the public prosecutor, to inform him of the event that had occurred.

While awaiting the legal orders that must come, M. Girard, the head of the municipal Laboratories carried out a technical examination. The investigation was not yet finished at midnight, when we left the Opera.

New details tomorrow, if there are any.

Georges Grison


*************

Page 3 of Le Figaro Friday 22nd May 1896

Various news items

The accident at the opera

During almost the whole of yesterday, the upper parts of the opera house were visited by official persons who came to examine the place of the accident and to clarify what caused it. Mes Messieurs Atthalin, attorney general, M Bertulus, examining magistrate, M. Lépine police superintendent, M. Guénin district superintendent, M. Girard, in charge of the City Laboratories came one after the other under the coupole. M. Garnier, the opera’s architect spoke with M. Bunel architecte de la prefecture, and with M. Pascal State Architect, brought by M. Henry Roujon directeur des Beaux Arts and Bernheim inspector of the national theatres.

The public prosecutor had impounded the ends of the wires and metal cable. He had ordered photographs to be taken of the holes and the place where the accident had occurred.

Seals had been placed on the electrical installations.

At 11 o’clock, the Commission de la Prefecture de police, consisting of M Girard, M Ferriere, M. Bunel, M. Picot, commandant Krebs, captain Cordier, and electrical engineers met. It had discovered several irregularities, such the presence in the same flue of supporting cables and electrical wires that should have been kept separate. But it recognized that the safety of the chandelier, since seven other cables held it, and still supported it. Moreover, let us correct this detail, it was not the chandelier itself that was being held up by the counterwiehgs, but the copper reflector, called “the sun” that was suspended above it.

The counterweights are made of eighteen discs that weigh 20 kg each. Thus each weights exaclty 360 kg. These discs are threaded onto an rod that is two metres long, and held on by a strong pin at the end. A slot going from the central hole on the edge of the disc allows it to be placed and pulled back at will, in order to augment or diminish the strength of the counterweight.

The first impact against a joist had made the pin to jump out and scattered the discs. This was fortunate since if they had remained together, the enormous mass would certainly have smashed through the floor of the amphitheatre and killed several more spectators in the lower sections.

The causes of the accident are not yet perfectly clear. It is believed that the contact of electrical wires, causing what is technically called a “short circuit”, had melted the cable holding the counterweight. But how had this contact occurred? M. Girard, to whom the question is put, replies:

“As yet I do not have a decided opinion on the subject. I have to study the installation at leisure. It is what I will do with other experts. Together we will put together a report. This will take about ten days. All that I can say, is that things are in a good condition now, I have checked this myself, and performances at the Opera can continue this very evening, without any kind of danger.”

As if to corroborate this assertion, we hear on the stage the brouhaha of the rehearsal of Hamlet, which, as Le Figare reported, has not been cancelled.

At five o’clock, the Commission returned and announced the opinion that nothing spoke against a performance that very evening.

As soon as the technical Commission had finished its examinations, a team of workers set to work on filling holes, mending the ceiling, repairing the crushed seats etc. Spectators who came yesterday to the amphitheatre would have found no traces of the accident.

Nothing is yet decided for the obsequies of Madame Chaumeil – this is the spelling of the name of the unfortunate victim. The body of the poor woman, wrapped in a shroud that covers her almost completely, has been placed on her bed in the caretaker’s lodging, impasse Briare.A wreath of black pearls brought by the parents of the deceased and three bouquets of real flowers lie on the shroud. Next to the bed, on a straw-bottomed chair, is a lit candle in copper candlestick.

The lodgings are poor, the walls bare. To support it, the family had only the very modest income from the caretaker’s lodge and the work of the young girl, a maid in the restaurant Duval. Mademoiselle Henriette Chaumeil, not yet recovered from the terrible shock she has received, and still suffering from her injuries, stays close to the bed, with her father.

“It’s fate,” says Mr Chaumeil, “My wife did not like the theatre very much and did not want to go there. As a musician had given us tickets, my daughter meant to bring one of her friends. Since she could not come, my wife decided to go... only to find death!...”

M. Vibert, forensic pathologist, sent by the public prosecutor, came to confirm the death. But he reserved temporarily the permission for burial.

The other victim, Mme Sénot, had a deep wound on her right leg, caused by one of the discs that had laid bare the bone. She is being nursed in her home, rue de l’Arcade.

Her friend, Mme Dufay, who accompanied her to the Opera, and other persons, had only bruises, as we have said.

Jean de Paris.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Phantomlove on Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:10 pm

Thank you so much for the link and the translation. It's really interesting to read!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:47 pm

Really cool to read a period description of the event. Thanks for taking the time to translate + post it! Very Happy

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Scorp on Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:06 am

You should try and get hold of the ones from the other papers, especially Le Matin. Leroux used their headline in his novel (although he obviously changed the weight of what came down on the concierge's head)! Scan of the headline here: http://www.pikchur.com/jTc

You can also use Gallica to find some good reports in Le Petit Journal, Le Petit Parisien and Le Gaulois. I have them and some others on my comp but don't really have time to translate them all now.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:46 am

Hi Scorp, I'm having some trouble negotiating the Gallica site, haven't quite got the hang of it yet. Might I trouble you for some links? I'll have a quick look, and if the texts aren't too similar to Le Figaros, I may have a go at translating those too.

You don't have Renata de Waele's account lying around anywhere? Falluke-elskeren got hold only of the first two pages of it, that I've translated.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  LadyCDaae on Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:15 pm

Is the reflector part of what was replaced by the Chagall mural? I've always been curious as to what the ceiling looked like back when PotO was set.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:19 pm

LadyCDaae wrote:Is the reflector part of what was replaced by the Chagall mural? I've always been curious as to what the ceiling looked like back when PotO was set.
I remeber Sultana of Persia posted some nice photos of it. It's in the grand Palais Garnier book. From what I remember, it was in a classic 19th century style, with mythologic theme, a blue sky and clouds, and various (Olympic?) gods.

To be honest, I personally like the elder one better. I do fancy the Chagall one, but when I saw the old one up in the ceiling, the whole auditorium felt more peaceful. The Chagall one demands a lot of attention.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Riene on Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:17 am

Fascinating. Thank you for posting the articles and translations, Jennie!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:48 pm

operafantomet wrote:
LadyCDaae wrote:Is the reflector part of what was replaced by the Chagall mural? I've always been curious as to what the ceiling looked like back when PotO was set.
I remeber Sultana of Persia posted some nice photos of it. It's in the grand Palais Garnier book. From what I remember, it was in a classic 19th century style, with mythologic theme, a blue sky and clouds, and various (Olympic?) gods.

To be honest, I personally like the elder one better. I do fancy the Chagall one, but when I saw the old one up in the ceiling, the whole auditorium felt more peaceful. The Chagall one demands a lot of attention.

I think I saw those pictures at phantomoftheopera.com, have searched for them but can't find them. Sultana is called WhoMe? over there now. I'll ask her if she can remember where she posted them.

The home page of the Opera Garnier has a very good "virtual visit" thing, where you can go inside and look all around the different parts of the opera, do check it out.

Edit to add: actually, in retrospect, I wonder if Sultana posted those pics at phantomoftheopera.com, or if it was on another phantom site...

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Scorp on Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:08 pm

Jennie wrote:
operafantomet wrote:
LadyCDaae wrote:Is the reflector part of what was replaced by the Chagall mural? I've always been curious as to what the ceiling looked like back when PotO was set.
I remeber Sultana of Persia posted some nice photos of it. It's in the grand Palais Garnier book. From what I remember, it was in a classic 19th century style, with mythologic theme, a blue sky and clouds, and various (Olympic?) gods.

To be honest, I personally like the elder one better. I do fancy the Chagall one, but when I saw the old one up in the ceiling, the whole auditorium felt more peaceful. The Chagall one demands a lot of attention.

I think I saw those pictures at phantomoftheopera.com, have searched for them but can't find them. Sultana is called WhoMe? over there now. I'll ask her if she can remember where she posted them.

The home page of the Opera Garnier has a very good "virtual visit" thing, where you can go inside and look all around the different parts of the opera, do check it out.

Edit to add: actually, in retrospect, I wonder if Sultana posted those pics at phantomoftheopera.com, or if it was on another phantom site...





http://www.pikchur.com/LSg

I've got more on my comp, maybe when I have a bit of time I'll upload.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:20 pm

Jennie wrote:I think I saw those pictures at phantomoftheopera.com, have searched for them but can't find them. Sultana is called WhoMe? over there now. I'll ask her if she can remember where she posted them.

The home page of the Opera Garnier has a very good "virtual visit" thing, where you can go inside and look all around the different parts of the opera, do check it out.

Edit to add: actually, in retrospect, I wonder if Sultana posted those pics at phantomoftheopera.com, or if it was on another phantom site...
I remember she posted some pics at POL, but she might have posted them elsewhere too.

Scorp, thanks a bunch for those pictures. Kitschy and unoriginal as the first ceiling might be, I do prefer it. As I wrote above, the Chagall one demands so much attention. The old one allowed the architecture and chandelier to be the focal point.

I think someone has answered this before, but why WAS Chagall commissioned to re-decorate the ceiling anyway?

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  LadyCDaae on Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:39 am

Wow, thanks! I love the way it looks--very Victorian-Romantic...

~LCD

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:17 am

Thank you, Jennie, for taking the time to translate and post this. Makes for fascinating reading!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:50 pm

LadyCDaae wrote:Wow, thanks! I love the way it looks--very Victorian-Romantic...

~LCD
Like the rest of the building, it seems to be in a neo-baroque style. Think illusionistic Catholic ceilings in baroque churches and palace decorations. The style in the churches and the palaces were pretty much the same, except the church ones concentrated on Christian themes, while the private ones often had antique themes (Olympic gods etc) instead.


The ceilings of Il Gesù and Sant' Ignazio in Rome.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:03 pm

I think someone has answered this before, but why WAS Chagall commissioned to re-decorate the ceiling anyway?

Your question piqued my curiosity, so I did a little checking online. Wikipedia has this to say about Chagall and the ceiling. Nothing against Chagall or his work, but I also prefer the original.


Ceiling of the Paris Opera (1963)
From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Chagall#Ceiling_of_the_Paris_Opera_.281963.29

In 1963 Chagall was commissioned to paint the new ceiling for the Paris Opera, a majestic 19th-century building and national monument. André Malraux, France's Minister of Culture wanted something unique and decided Chagall would be the ideal artist. However, this choice of artist led to controversy: some objected to having a Russian Jew decorate a French national monument; others took exception to the ceiling of the historic building being painted by a modern artist. Some magazines wrote condescending articles about Chagall and Malraux, about which Chagall commented to one writer:

They really had it in for me.... It is amazing the way the French resent foreigners. You live here most of your life. You become a naturalized French citizen... work for nothing decorating their cathedrals, and still they despise you. You are not one of them.

Nonetheless, Chagall remained on the project which took the 77-year-old Chagall a year to complete. The final canvas was nearly 2,400 square feet (220 sq. meters) and required 440 pounds of paint. It had five sections which were glued to polyester panels and hoisted up to the 70-foot ceiling. The images Chagall painted on the canvas paid tribute to the composers Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Berlioz and Ravel, as well as to famous actors and dancers.

It was presented to the public on September 23, 1964 in the presence of Malraux and 2,100 invited guests. The Paris correspondent for the New York Times wrote, "For once the best seats were in the uppermost circle: Baal-Teshuva writes:

To begin with, the big crystal chandelier hanging from the centre of the ceiling was unlit... the entire corps de ballet came onto the stage, after which, in Chagall's honour, the opera's orchestra played the finale of the "Jupiter Symphony" by Mozart, Chagall's favorite composer. During the last bars of the music, the chandelier lit up, bringing the artist's ceiling painting to life in all its glory, drawing rapturous applause from the audience.

After the new ceiling was unveiled, "even the bitterest opponents of the commission seemed to fall silent," writes Baal-Teshuva. "Unanimously, the press declared Chagall's new work to be a great contribution to French culture." Chagall did not disappoint the trust that Malraux had placed in him, with Malraux later saying, "What other living artist could have painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera in the way Chagall did?.... He is above all one of the great colourists of our time... many of his canvases and the Opera ceiling represent sublime images that rank among the finest poetry of our time, just as Titian produced the finest poetry of his day." In Chagall's speech to the audience he explained the meaning of the work:

Up there in my painting I wanted to reflect, like a mirror in a bouquet, the dreams and creations of the singers and musicians, to recall the movement of the colourfully attired audience below, and to honour the great opera and ballet composers.... Now I offer this work as a gift of gratitude to France and her École de Paris, without which there would be no colour and no freedom.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:34 pm

That was actually interesting to read, as it reveals mixed feelings about it from contemporary sources. I agree with those praising him that it is a magnificent piece, but it still makes me wonder why they felt like replacing the old one. Seems just as unmotivated as replacing the chandelier with a modern one. Anyone knows if the old painting was damaged in any way?

And am I mistaken in remembering that the old one is still there, only covered by the plates holding the Chagall one in place? I seem to remember reading an comment online about how they checked the state of the old one some years ago, to find it in fairly good condition... unless I'm thinking about another opera house?

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:51 pm

Again, according to Wikipedia:
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palais_Garnier

The ceiling area, which surrounds the chandelier, was given a new painting in 1964 by Marc Chagall. This painting proved controversial, with many people feeling Chagall's work clashed with the style of the rest of the theatre. (It was also installed directly onto the old mural, thereby destroying it. The combined weight of both canvases has caused the 19th C. adhesives to fail over time.)

-0-0-0-

I've been under the impression that the original ceiling painting was still there, simply underneath the Chagall. But this citation implies that the opposite is the case, that the original mural was destroyed. Maybe somebody else knows which is true?

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:04 pm

What I noticed about the Wikipedia article about Palais Garnier is that someone has commented on the lack of references for various claims. The one saying the old one is ruined is one of those. That's not to say it's wrong, as the person might have quoted a book and not listed it, just thought I should point it out.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:07 pm

Yes, I noticed that as well. I also recall reading somewhere (sadly, I don't recall where...but it was some time ago), that both murals still existed. I'll need to do some more searching. Back to Goggle!!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:20 pm

Ummmm.. well... yes, but what was WRONG with the old ceiling? Was it flaking or something? Never mind, I can look that up for myself, but even if I admire Chagall, I'm of the opinion that the original paintings harmonized better with the auditorium as a whole.

Thank you for posting those pics, and the information, everyone.

*Waves to HDK* Nice to see you have some time to drop in here, too. I'm a sporadic lurker, I think is the best term. It's hard to keep up with too many different message boards when you're juggling work and teenagers!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  operafantomet on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:29 pm

Jennie wrote:*Waves to HDK* Nice to see you have some time to drop in here, too. I'm a sporadic lurker, I think is the best term. It's hard to keep up with too many different message boards when you're juggling work and teenagers!
AND suffers from a nasty cold! I hope you're feeling better now. I love you

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:39 pm

Yes, Jennie. Take care of that cold!

And I am 100% in agreement that if it ain't broke -- don't fix it. From what I've gleaned from the internet articles so far, the replacement of the original mural with the Chagall had little to do with replacing something that was damaged. I keep coming across statements to the effect that Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned Chagall to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing the sets and costumes he'd designed for the Paris Opera's production of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe in 1958.

I would not be surprised to learn that by that time, there were some who felt things inside were too "old fashioned" and needed to be given a face lift with something more modern.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Scorp on Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:04 pm

I think the Wikipedia article is wrong; Lenepveu's ceiling is still preserved, not destroyed, underneath Chagall's.

Chagall's ceiling to this day elicits a lot of controversy amongst the French. It caused an outcry when it was first installed and still attracts a lot of negative comments. I don't mind it and like its bold colours, but I do agree with operafantomet that it has the effect of taking up too much of your attention because it is quite in-your-face.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:15 pm

I believe you're right, Scorp. Other than the Wikipedia article, I've seen no other mention of the original ceiling having been destroyed. However, when I tried to find information online to back this up, I could find nothing. Maybe I'm just not that good with search engines, though. Scorp, do you have first-hand knowledge of this (like a trip to the opera house)? If not, could someone find an article or other source to verify this? I'd be grateful if you'd post it here. Or at least the name of the source.

Many thanks in advance!

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Scorp on Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:29 pm

HDKingsbury wrote:I believe you're right, Scorp. Other than the Wikipedia article, I've seen no other mention of the original ceiling having been destroyed. However, when I tried to find information online to back this up, I could find nothing. Maybe I'm just not that good with search engines, though. Scorp, do you have first-hand knowledge of this (like a trip to the opera house)? If not, could someone find an article or other source to verify this? I'd be grateful if you'd post it here. Or at least the name of the source.

Many thanks in advance!

I'm pretty sure someone who works at the Garnier told me that one of the times I visited years ago. I have several books about the building too and I know the ceiling is discussed in detail in two of them by Gérard Fontaine and the answer's probably there, but I can't quote them or refer you to them right now as I keep all those books in a different location...they're not on me right now, sorry. Neutral

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  HDKingsbury on Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:42 pm

Thanks, Scorp. It's okay if you can't quote them. I appreciate that you have some first (or should I say second?) hand knowledge of the subject. Unfortunately, I have to depend upon the Internet...and we know how some online resources are not always reliable.

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Thank you For that

Post  Deathshead1 on Sun May 23, 2010 7:36 pm

I was only aware that there was one article, thank you. Isn't it creepy thought, reading about the real events and then tying them in with the novel?

Your Obedient servant, Deaths head. Very Happy

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Mon May 24, 2010 6:11 pm

Hi Deathshead1, yes, it's fascinating to read contemporary accounts like that. It gave me goosebumps to read about the real people involved in the accident, the newspaper articles were so vivid.

Someone mentioned other articles earlier in this thread, and I'd just like to repeat my offer to translate from French, if someone finds more contemporary sources about events related to Phantom or Leroux.

So, does anyone have any more newspaper articles about the counterweight accident? Or does anyone have the complete Renata de Waele account? Anything else?

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Scorp on Tue May 25, 2010 9:23 am

Jennie wrote:Hi Deathshead1, yes, it's fascinating to read contemporary accounts like that. It gave me goosebumps to read about the real people involved in the accident, the newspaper articles were so vivid.

Someone mentioned other articles earlier in this thread, and I'd just like to repeat my offer to translate from French, if someone finds more contemporary sources about events related to Phantom or Leroux.

So, does anyone have any more newspaper articles about the counterweight accident? Or does anyone have the complete Renata de Waele account? Anything else?

Jennie, there are tons more articles available on Gallica. You can get articles from Le Gaulois, Le Matin, Le Petit Journal, Le Figaro and Le Parisien from there. I particularly recommend getting the Le Matin one as that's where Leroux derived that famous headline from (see pic below -- not surprising since that was his paper after all), and one of the other ones is surprisingly detailed and includes an interview with the poor widower of the woman who was killed. Quite a tragic story. The woman hated the theatre and only went because her daughter couldn't find anyone to go with. The New York Times ran a report at the time as well which should be easily accessible online.



I have Renata de Waele's account somewhere on my comp...do you really want it? It's a load of nonsense.

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

Post  Jennie on Tue May 25, 2010 9:34 pm

I haven't succeeded in negotiating the Gallica site very well, and haven't had much time to spend searching for other articles than those two from the Figaro that I've translated. So there is an interview with the widower in Le Matin as well? It'll have to be one of my holiday projects to track down the other articles.

And yes please, I would love to have the whole de Waele account. It is exquisitely silly (the first half that I have seen and translated) and I will happily do all that I can to pop that balloon of ..... fiction. So many happy bunnies hop around referring to de Waele's practically eyewitness account.... aaargh!


Last edited by Jennie on Tue May 25, 2010 9:35 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to correct typo and add a sentence)

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Re: Articles in Le Figaro about the counterweight accident at the Paris Opera in 1896

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