ORGANS OF PARIS © 2023 Vincent Hildebrandt ALL ORGANS
Many are unaware that the Opera Garnier has an
instrument built by Cavaillé-Coll in 1874. The latter
is totally invisible to the general public since it is
located on the court side at the front stage with
pipes at 12 meters in height.
The inauguration took place on January 8, 1875 with
the representation of the "Jewish" of Fromental
Halévy. From that moment on, the organ was used
on a regular basis with performances of works
requiring its use.
However, the instrument suffered quickly from the
dust caused by the settings on the stage as well as
very large temperature differences. A first warning
call issued in 1893 by Cavaillé-Coll himself who
noticed that his instrument had never been dusted.
Subsequently, the condition of the organ
deteriorated further, some stops suffered from a
loss of quality of their timbre. Cavaillé considered
the organ "in a state of disrepair" in 1894. In 1925,
following a leak in the water supply of the fire
department, the organ was flooded and
decommissioned. Following this incident, Cavaillé-
Coll / Convers was called to carry out a restoration
of the instrument with some modifications, the
most important being the installation of an electric
fan, installed in a separate room located under the
This instrument was last used on March 23, 1959 to
celebrate the centenary of the creation of "Faust"
by Charles Gounod, played by the André Marchal,
who returned to play it occasionally until 1964.
Since 1974, the organ has become unplayable and
undergoes visible malfeasance, especially on the
console. However, the original piping remains
intact. This organ is kept in its original location
desired by its manufacturer, which is unique in its
Information supplied by Timothy Tikker (on
it was on 8" and 10" wind pressure, and I believe had
no pneumatic lever for the (mechanical) key action.
The high pressures were mainly because the organ was
placed far backstage -- cinema organs placed in
chambers and having as few ranks relative to the size
of the hall used these same pressures. The console was
located with the pipes, Cavaillé-Coll remarking that the
organ was designed for the pleasure of the audience,
not of the organist! The player could see the conductor
via a series of carefully-placed mirrors.
Attemps to save this organ are ongoing.
Although this organ has become unplayable since
1974, a handful of recordings keep the sound trail.
The most famous of these is the Faust recorded in
1953 under the baton of André Cluytens (Emi): the
organ resonates at the beginning of Act IV (at
1:42:30) and radiates in majesty for the final
apotheosis ("Christ is risen!")!
Organist: Henriette Puig-Roget
Source: Xavier Lebrun