Opera man to NY Times: You’re so wrong about the Bastille

Opera man to NY Times: You’re so wrong about the Bastille


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2019

From a letter today by Robert Israel of Los Angeles:

‘As an opera designer who has worked at the Bastille and numerous other major opera houses, I have a point of view that is different from those expressed in this article. The quality of a theater should not be judged first and foremost by its architecture. It should first be measured by the sight lines of the audience, the acoustics and the flexibility of the stage. The Opéra Bastille has one of the best-equipped and most flexible stages that I have ever worked on. Its depth is not a hindrance; it is a luxury. One can always reduce the depth and width of a stage, but you cannot make it bigger than its footprint.’



  • Carlos says:

    No way. It’s an ugly and uncomfortable theater, and the accoustics is not that marvel.

  • Saul Davis Zlatkovski says:

    What an idiot. He must be quite incompetent. I love going to Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. The beauty of its interior gives me something to look at, regardless of the production, and it creates an atmosphere contemporary architecture rarely does.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      So let me get this right…you go to a theater to admire the architecture, and what is on stage is secondary? And Mr. Israel is the incompetent idiot?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      I don’t see the point of immediately resorting to insults. People can actually have different opinions on this and much else.

      • LEWES BIRD says:

        Oh. But, judging by the quality of today’s prose, intellectual arguments, and level of philistinism, today is a “I can has cheezburger” day on here. Just relax, sit back, and enjoy the show.

  • Place de la Bastille says:

    It seems one is talking about different aspects of the theatre. The technical possibilities, size, depth etc of the stage are amazing. The acoustics and public spaces are another story.

  • MWnyc says:

    Well, yes, an opera designer would judge an opera house primarily by its sightlines and its stage.

    The man who wrote that article is not an opera designer. And he did acknowledge some of the Opera-Bastille’s good qualities (mostly inside the building).

    Outside, the place is still ugly as sin.

  • JJC says:

    The size of the stage and all the high tech are impressive indeed but it all seemed used to enhance the depravity of the recent production of Les Troyens.

  • Bill Gross says:

    I take this moment to brag about the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas. Acoustician Russell Johnson’s Artec Consultants, Inc and architect I.M. Pei were hired to design the building. The contract stated that they were co-equals on the project. The Acoustician did not report to the architect as happens in many such projects. It’s a great place to hear music.