Culture Vultures The World’s Most Beautiful Opera Houses

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Many of the classic art nouveau buildings, such as Guimard’s Paris Metro entrances (see below), were torn down in the 1950s and 60s, but many others have been taken over by new owners and restored. Here are ten of the most beautiful opera houses in the world.

Despite a fire in 1867 that destroyed much of its interior, the Vienna Opera House is one of the most stunningly ornate theaters in the world. It was designed by the Austrian Empire’s top architects with the intention of making it seem like a “giant jewel box” from which music would emanate.

The Colosseum (pictured above) is one of Rome’s most famous landmarks, and its history extends back for centuries. It was built in 80 AD by Emperor Vespasian and later underwent several renovations. Nowadays, it hosts plays and musical performances.In addition to being incredibly ornate and gorgeous, La Scala is also known for hosting Italy’s most famous opera singers. The theater was originally designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini and was completed in 1778.The Palais Garnier (also known as Opéra de Paris) was built between 1861 and 1875 using red brick, white stone, gold leaf

In the early twentieth century, a new kind of art was emerging. A style that was delicate and vivid in color, and with curled lines. Its name: Art Nouveau.

The style emerged in the 1890s in Britain, and spread quickly throughout Europe. But nowhere did it flourish as much as in Vienna, where it was the dominant style for architecture between 1890 and 1910. The Austrian capital was home to many of the world’s finest architects at the time—including Joseph Maria Olbrich, Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, and Viktor Horta—all of whom adopted the new style with aplomb. And all of whom are associated with some of Vienna’s most beautiful buildings.

Before we take a look at those beautiful buildings, here is a brief overview of what exactly is Art Nouveau…

The Gewandhaus (Cloth Hall) is the most famous and important concert hall in Leipzig, Germany. It was built in 1781-1784 by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, who was inspired by a visit to Rome and the Pantheon to design a building with a large, unobstructed hall supported by columns.

The original builders intended the Gewandhaus to be Leipzig’s town hall; unfortunately the city council had already commissioned another architect to build one. However, the Gewandhaus became primarily an auditorium for concerts and lectures. The great German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was appointed music director at age 21 and spent 12 years there giving concerts that attracted music lovers from all over Europe. The building itself was later used as a warehouse during communist rule from 1949 to 1990, and the exterior was somewhat neglected until it underwent restoration work in 1995-1996 and again in 2009-2010.

After the French Revolution, all that changed.

The revolutionaries despised opera and its aristocratic associations, and they systematically eliminated the splendid old theaters. Between 1793 and 1795, Paris lost the Opera (which became a warehouse), the Comédie-Française (a library), the Comédie-Italienne (a riding school), and the Opéra-Comique (salon de théâtre). The Théâtre-Français survived as a theater, but only by welcoming popular entertainments such as pantomime, ballet, farce, and vaudeville.

One of Napoleon’s first acts as First Consul was to give Paris a new opera house . . . .

And that pattern has continued to this day: one of the most prominent features of every major city in Europe is an opera house that serves not just the elite but also the people — a symbol of high culture for all.

The building is a masterpiece of the late Art Nouveau style. The interior is an extraordinary blend of styles. The lower levels are constructed in a lavish orientalist style, decorated with symmetrical arches, mosaics and exotic decor inspired by the Palace of Versailles.

The first four floors were used as apartments and offices, while the upper floors were rented to artists, illustrators and writers. The Hungarian expatriate painter Károly Markó lived on the top floor between 1911 and 1914. It was here that he painted his famous poster of Sarah Bernhardt, which led to widespread international fame.

In 1915, while the building was still under construction, it almost burnt to the ground during a mysterious fire.

Art nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that was most popular between 1890 and 1910. The name “Art Nouveau” (French for “new art”) was the name that the French chose to identify the style, although it is commonly known as the “Style Moderne”, (as in in English) or, simply, Modern Style.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century a number of young artists in Paris rebelled against the Academism, which governed the official art circles of Paris at that time. Hoping to give free rein to their imagination and creativity, they rebelled against all that was stiff, artificial and conventional.

The new movement found its inspiration in nature and used simple lines based on an understanding of its forms and structure, combined with a strong emphasis on decoration. In fact, the decorative quality of Art Nouveau made it an ideal style for the applied arts such as jewellery, furniture design and architecture.< We must be careful in what we learn from history, lest we not learn anything at all. As a general rule, the telling of history is selective and tailored to the teller's agenda. History can be quite easily used as propaganda by those with a message. History can also become distorted through the simple passage of time, when those who lived it are gone and those who write about it attempt to make sense of their own lives through the lens of others' experiences. Telling the story of someone else's life is a tricky business. It is easy for us to forget that in order for history to really be a useful tool for us, it must first be accurate. A good biographer seeks to understand his subject, but he must first seek to understand himself and his own biases. Otherwise, he runs the risk of writing a biased and inaccurate account that glorifies or disparages his subject for reasons that have more to do with him than them. History is only meaningful if we are able to apply it to ourselves and our own lives. If we can't compare our own experiences with those of others then there is no way we can learn from them, or use them as examples on how to live our own lives better.

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