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The Paris Opera building also known as Palais Garnier emerged as part of an ambitious urbanistic redesigning of the city of Paris In 1858 Napoleon III decided to build a Grand Opera in the new business quarter designed by Baron Haussmann The previous buildings that functioned as opera or lyric theaters such as Le Pletier Palace and the Acadmie Royale de Musique--founded in 1669 by Louis XIV had been either temporary or had been destroyed by terrible fires It was not until 1856 that an architectural competition was organized for the new opera house Of the 171 architects participating Charles Garniers design was selected The building remained in construction for a period of 17 years--from 1857 to 1874 It is said that Garnier created an Opera House and stage in the traditional Italian style but this is argued by contemporary architects The inspiration for this grandiose setting were both the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux and the Italian and French villas of the 17th and 18th centuries The function of this building was intended for hosting the festivities of the Emperors entourage and of elegant audiences from the social lite During this time elite societies especially in France and Italy a night at the Opera was a pleasant excuse for meeting people and renewing acquaintances For this reason the passages halls foyers staircases and rotundas occupy a far larger area than the theatre itself This is also the determining characteristic to name the style of the Opera building as of Napoleon III style The different styles such as the baroque faste and ecclectic made of this building difficult to classify as most bulidings built during the Second Empire It is known as Napoleon III style due to the space dynamics and scale used as reference to represent the official monumental and opulent art representing the Second Empire hence a symbol of Parisian luxury and leisure The Paris Opera House is also classified
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