Opera Library

Opera Library

Poster for 'Faust', opera by Charles Gounod. Pierre Auguste Lamy, 1875. Colour lithograph
The Opera library and archives were set up in 1866 to classify and preserve the heritage and administrative documents held by the Opera since the creation of the Académie royale de musique et de danse by Louis the 14th in 1669. From the outset under the authority of the Ministry of Fine Arts, the Opera Library was joined to the Bibliothèque Nationale in 1935 and more specifically to the Music Department in 1942. It houses all types of music, iconographic and archive materials connected to the activities of the Opera and Opéra-Comique; and documents of any kind about opera, ballet and circus. The museum is open to all. Access to the reading room is restricted to the readers of the Research Library.

Collections of the Opera Library

Collections on the following topics are available for consultation at the Opera Library (Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra):
Costume by Alfred Albert for Le Corsaire (1855)

Costume by Alfred Albert for Le Corsaire (1855)

Consisting of archives, a library, and a museum, the department preserves the heritage of the Opéra de Paris and all materials on lyrical theater and dance.

The Opera Library holds musical documents (music scores, handwritten manuscripts, etc.), graphic materials (mock-ups and drawings of sets and costumes), and archive materials arising from the activities of the Opéra (including in particular performances by the Académie de Musique et de Danse over the past three centuries) and the Opéra-Comique.

The Library also holds literary, musical, graphic, and museum materials on lyrical theater and dance

The Opera Library also has under its charge a museum, originally consisting of “pious souvenirs” belonging to singers, dancers, composers, and musicians. Housed within the Opéra Garnier, it displays a selection from among 2,500 mock-ups of sets, 3,000 objects (including 500 paintings), and 3,000 items of stage jewelry.

Many 18th and 19th century iconographic and archive documents, such as the Journal de l'Opéra describing the Opera's everyday life, are available in Gallica digital library.

History of the Opera Library

From the formation of the Académie royale de Musique (at the origin of the Opéra de Paris) on 28 June 1669 until the mid-19th century, no institution was officially tasked with managing the archives generated by the activities of the Académie and its associated performance venue. The creation of an archives department and library was incorporated into the project entrusted to Charles Garnier to build a new opera house. Today located in the pavilion of the Palais Garnier originally intended for Napoleon III, the Opera Library thus traces its roots back to two departments of the Opéra (the library and the archives), both of which were set up in 1866 before rapidly being amalgamated and supplemented by a public museum in 1881. Originally coming under the Secretary of State for Fine Art, the Opera Library was attached to the National Library in 1935, and has been attached to the Music Department since the latter was set up in 1942.
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Monday, May 23, 2016