Get ready for an eerie adventure through Opéra Garnier Paris where the legend of the Phantom of the Opera originated from. How much from the musical and the novel was from real life and just how haunted is the opera house today? 

“Then their ears suddenly perceive celestial harmonies, a divine voice, which they remember all their lives.”
Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Step inside the haunted walls of Opéra Garnier Paris that were said to be haunted by an opera ghost. Was it a living man hiding behind the walls of the opera or was it in fact a supernatural ghost haunting the building. Was the Phantom of the Opera a fact at all? 

The iconic building is full of mysterious stories and eerie legends that have been passed down throughout the centuries. Discover what makes this grand theater one of France’s most spine-tingling places, as you explore its many dark histories and ghastly tales.

The History of the Opéra Garnier

Opéra Garnier Paris, also known as The Palais Garnier, is an iconic and historic building that stands as a symbol of French culture and sophistication and is perhaps the most well known opera house that exists. Today the Opéra Garnier is mainly used for ballet.

Opéra Garnier was built in the Second Empire of France, it was designed by renowned architect Charles Garnier, as part of a massive construction project undertaken during the reign of Napoleon III. 

Since its inception, many strange and ghastly legends have surrounded the building – from tales of mysterious disappearances to reports of a deep underground lake said to be populated by fantastical creatures. Beyond these stories lies the undeniable fact that there are things about the building that remain unexplored and unknown, leaving much of its enigmatic past shrouded in mystery.

Much of Opéra Garnier Paris’s legendary aura comes from its mysterious structure and certain features of the building architecture. The architecture is a quintessential Napoleon III style with a mix of both Baroque, Palladio and Renaissance all in one building. It has a labyrinthine design, with hidden passages and secret passageways – some of which may have been used for illicit activities during the opera house’s earlier times. 

The grand stairway is nothing short of breathtaking and there are unique implications to this powerful piece of architecture. These days, it serves as an inspiring backdrop for any number of theatrical performances.

Discover the Phantom of the Opera’s Terrible Curse

Legend has it that the spirit of an unknown figure lives in the auditorium, where he haunts theatrical performances with a terrible curse, walks the grand staircase of the opera and hides in the basement. 

His name is often Erik or Ernest from the legends, but we perhaps know him best from the Gaston Leroux novel, the Phantom of the Opera published in 1910. Today it is perhaps the best known opera house in the world thanks to this novel and the 1986 musical with the same name. But was there a legend that inspired this work, and was the legend true?

Those who are brave enough to enter may feel a presence they can’t explain or even hear mysterious and chilling music! No one knows what this masked phantom looks like or why he cursed the theater – but those brave enough to try might just find out!

The Strange Deaths in the Opéra Garnier

“Oh, to-night I gave you my soul, and I am dead!”
Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Stories of the Phantom are not new–theater-goers, performers and staff have been experiencing eerie encounters in Opéra Garnier Paris since its opening in 1875 where a series of unexplained deaths took place and it is said that the writer Gaston Leroux were inspired from these legends when he wrote his novel.

Very soon after the opening a stagehand was found hanged. Then in 1896 during a performance of Faust an enormous crystal chandelier fell from the ceiling and struck a spectator or a concierge who died instantly. Garnier said of the chandelier: 

“What else could fill the theatre with such joyous life? What else could offer the variety of forms that we have in the pattern of the flames, in these groups and tiers of points of light, these wild hues of gold flecked with bright spots, and these crystalline highlights?”

Now the incident was one of the highlights of the novel by Gaston Leroux and so many legends came from this incident. Rumour has it that the person who died sat on seat number 13. 

The Phantom of the Opera

Get ready for an eerie adventure through Opéra Garnier Paris where the legend of the Phantom of the Opera originated from. How much from the musical and the novel was from real life and just how haunted is the opera house today? 

All of the accidents and more were attributed to Ernest. He was supposedly a young piano prodigy that worked in the Le Peletier Opera House that was before Opéra Garnier. On October 28th 1873, a terrible fire broke out there and burned his face terribly. His fiance, a young ballerina, died. 

Filled with pain, sorrow and anger, the pianist took refuge in the maze-like building of the new opera house that was being built and wanted to finish his grand masterpiece. He is said to have lived in the underground lake under the building and only eaten the fish he caught there. 

Did Ernest really exist? There have been many speculations and too many legends to separate false from facts. There is not a natural lake underneath the opera house, but there really is an enormous cistern that firefighters use to practice swimming in the dark. 

There has also been an unidentified body discovered in the basement of the opera building. Could it be that the Phantom of the Opera was real?

The Unsolved Legend of the Phantom of the Opera

From strange noises to magical music that suddenly appears out of nowhere, there’s no doubt that something supernatural is at work here. Whatever it is, it terrifies audiences and mesmerizes those brave enough to enter the palatial halls of Opéra Garnier Paris. 

The mystery of the Phantom of the Opera remains unsolved – yet one thing is certain: the legend has been passed down through generations and will remain chilling for centuries to come.

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