Throughout his entire career, from his debut in the 1860s up to his final works post 1900, the Opera formed the focal point of Degas’s output. It was his own ‘front room’. He explored the theatre’s various spaces – auditorium and stage, boxes, foyers and dance studios – and followed those who frequented them: dancers, singers, orchestral musicians, audience members and black-attired patrons lurking in the wings. This closed world presented a microcosm of infinite possibilities, allowing all manner of experimentations: multiple points of view, contrasts of lighting, the study of motion and the precision of movement.
This book is the first to consider the Opera as a whole, examining not only Degas’ passionate relationship with the House and his musical tastes, but also the limitless resources of this marvellous ‘toolbox’. The work of a truly great artist offers us a unique portrait of the Paris Opera in the 19th century.