Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris

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Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris
Founder: King Louis XIV
Founded: 1661
Hometown: Paris
Members: 154
Technology: classic ballet

The Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris is the ballet company of the Paris Opera .

It is located in the Garnier Opera and (as of 2017) consists of a total of 154 dancers - including 20 first solo dancers ("étoiles") and 14 first dancers ("premiers danseurs") - who almost all have their training in the in-house ballet school - the École de Danse de l'Opéra in Nanterre near Paris.

The admission of candidates who join the ballet company between the ages of 16 and 20 is decided in an annual competitive selection process, depending on the vacant positions. Thereafter, further competitions organized annually enable advancement in the ballet hierarchy. This is divided into five levels, from the lowest level of the "quadrille" to the "coryphée" and the "sujet" to the "premier danseur" (1st dancer), while the highest level "étoile" (solo dancer) is recommended of the “directeur de la danse”, i.e. the artistic director, is achieved by nomination by the director of the opera. The dancers left the Ballet de l'Opéra at the age of 42.

In the Palais Garnier the ballet ensemble has 4 classrooms and 5 rehearsal rooms (“Lifar”, “Noureev”, “Petipa”, “Rotunda Chauviré” and “Zambelli”) - at times also the famous “ Foyer de la Danse ”, the connects to the backstage. Classes take place in the morning, the rehearsals in the afternoon, if there is no performance, occasionally in the evening. When the “Ballet de l'Opéra” appears in the new Bastille Opera , there will also be boxes and rehearsal rooms there (“Nijinski” and “Balanchine” halls).

The “Ballet de l'Opéra” is supervised by the “Directeur de la danse”, who is supported by an artistic director, a ballet master, a general director and other directors and teachers.


The history of the Paris Opera Ballet goes back to 1661 when the French King Louis XIV founded the Royal Dance Academy (Académie Royale de Danse). The opera dance school, also founded by Louis XIV. In 1713 , is the oldest existing ballet school. In the same year Louis XIV made the opera and his ballet company of 20 dancers a permanent state institution. During this time, most of the pieces performed were by Charles-Louis Beauchamp ; the best known are: Alcidiane and Le mariage forcé .

In 1763 the opera building burned down and the dancers temporarily moved to the Palais des Tuileries before they found a new home in the Palais Royal in 1770 .

1776 was Jean-Georges Noverre , on the recommendation of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresia ballet master of the Paris Opera Ballet. Les caprices de Galathée and Les petits riens to the music of Mozart (and others) were performed under his direction .

After only eleven years, the opera building burned down again during a ballet performance. It was thanks to the quick action of the ballet master at the time, Jean Dauberval , that there was no disaster. In the same year a new building was erected elsewhere.

After Dauberval left, Maximilien and Pierre Gardel took over the direction of the ballet. After the death of his brother, Pierre Gardel worked as a choreographer and ballet master until 1829 . Under his direction, among other things, Psyché was created, which was performed 564 times between 1790 and 1829.

In 1820 the opera had to move again. The new building was on Rue Le Peletier.

Twelve years later, the Paris public could admire the first toe dance when Marie Taglioni performed in La Sylphide .

The last great ballet of this time was Giselle, which premiered in 1842 .

In the early 20th century, ballet was completely dominated by the Ballets Russes . Some of their performances also took place in the opera. It was only Serge Lifar , who had been a solo dancer for the Ballets Russes, who helped the Paris Opera Ballet to new dimensions between 1930 and 1958 .

Pieces Nurejew added to the repertoire included Lilac Garden by Antony Tudor , In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe and Magnificat by John Neumeier . He also brought out his own versions of Raimonda , Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty .

Ballet master

Ballet masters, called "directeurs de la danse" since 1971, were:

Ballerinas of the Paris Opera Le Peletier (clockwise): Lise Noblet, Marie Taglioni , M lle Julia [de Varennes], Alexis Dupont, Amélie Legallois and Pauline Montessu, premiers sujets , 1831.

Dancers (selection)

Documentations and recordings

  • Jacques Offenbach - Les contes d'Hoffmann (DVD)
  • Sergei Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet (DVD)
  • Sleeping Beauty (DVD)
  • Paris Opera Ballet - La Bayadère (DVD)
  • La Danse - The Paris Opera Ballet (2009) - Documentary by the American documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman , who followed the work at the Opéra de Paris with his camera for 12 weeks.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Almanach des spectacles , J.-N. Barba, 1831 p. 23 ( digitized version ).