After heavy protests and even a petition against the removal of seperfations at the Palais Garnier, the National Opera in Paris argues that the central boxes of the Palais Garnier have been separated by removable partitions ever since the construction of the theatre which opened in 1875.

Here is the entire text of Lissner’s anser to the critics:

« None of the partitions will be permanently removed.

In his book ‘The new Paris Opera’, published in 1878, Charles Garnier describes the ‘removable partitions that can be installed or withdrawn at will’ in order to accommodate audiences as circumstances required.

From 1875 onwards temporary partition removal was regularly carried out for decades, for example in the case of official visits or hiring out of the auditorium.

These partitions are composed of heavy panels and are difficult to manoeuvre. Over the years their removal has damaged panels, boxes and fabrics alike.

A project developed with the chief architect and DRAC, approved in principle in June 2014

In the first half of 2014 The Paris Opera commissioned a restoration and modernisation project from the head architect for historical monuments.

This project was submitted to the Ministry of Culture and the board of directors of the Opera.

In June 2014 the DRAC (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs) approved the principle and requested that a prototype be manufactured and installed in the summer of 2015.

The project is to replace 12 existing removable and damaged partitions in the 1st and 2nd level central boxes of the Palais Garnier with integrated mobile and easily retractable partitions running on fabric-covered rails.

Moving back these partitions before a performance to form three larger boxes on both levels, it is possible to offer the public 30 additional seats with an excellent stage view. After the performance, each partition returns to its place and the appearance of the auditorium, before and after the performances, will in no way be changed.

The furniture will be restored (seats, mirrors, shelves, separating curtains, curtain tiebacks, bronze hooks) as well as the original fabric and velvet thanks to research carried out by the architect.

Although the Palais Garnier, an Italian-style theatre, has 2081 seats, 500 of these offer only limited visibility. In addition, in the central boxes, 3rd and 4th row spectators suffer from a reduced angle of vision and the acoustics are not satisfactory.

Following a technical study, the new configuration of these boxes will offer a wider view and better acoustics.

The current appearance of these lodges is therefore only temporary and should be considered as a construction phase. A prototype has been installed and the existing removable partitions have been removed on the 1st and 2nd levels so that work can proceed quickly once final approval of the project is given. Work will continue as soon as the DRAC’s approval is confirmed, following a schedule adapted to the theatre’s artistic season. They will be completed in spring 2016.

This work is part of a broader programme of auditorium renovation (damaged fabrics and carpets…) and improved spectator comfort in terms of visibility, accessibility and acoustics. »

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