Today was the day. After a 10 year wait and an uncomfortable conversation with a man before I hopped onto the metro, I was going to see the Palais Garnier, or as some may know it, the Opera Populaire from The Phantom of the Opera. I was first introduced to The Phantom of the Opera in 8th grade, thanks to my parents having watched it. I was in love. Being 13, I obsessed over the things I loved (and still do), which meant that I researched everything about this place. As it would turn out, the chandelier did actually crash, and there really are caverns underneath the opera house. I read countless supplementary stories, such as Phantom by Susan Kay, and watched way too many retellings of the story, including, of course, the 1920s film with Lon Chaney, the 2004 musical, the cartoon, and the 1980s horror film starring Robert Englund. I saved up money (which I spent much later after realizing just how expensive it was to get to France). It was a dream, potentially obtainable once I had a job and vacation hours, but it was my dream.
Enter college. After one term of taking French, I decided that I was pretty okay at this, and that, well, I’d like to know more about the culture and speak it more fluently–especially if I was ever to go to France. I became a French major. And, TAPIF-ers, if you’re worried about your speaking skills, please don’t worry! The first thing my French advisor and professor ever said to me was “Comment tu t’appelles?” (What is your name?), and I said “What?” in response. A rocky start, but a start nonetheless. Three years of taking French classes, crying, doing projects, and writing essays later, and I began my senior year at Southern Oregon University. At the end of each person’s studies, they must do a Capstone–that is, a final project whose guidelines were dictated by the major. For my French major, we had to write a 15-20 page paper with at least 20 annotated bibliography sources as our general research. So, naturally, I wrote my paper on The Phantom of the Opera. That year, I even got Phantom of the Opera tattoos. I was in it to win it. But that wasn’t all! Each French major has to do a sort of internship abroad. Each person at my school who had to do this went through TAPIF to complete their degree, so here I am.
Just a week after I arrived in France, I knew it was time. I had previously purchased my tickets online a few weeks before (do it, it’s super cheap, actually!), and I was ready to make my dream come true. After a 40 minute train ride and a short trip on the metro, I ran up the stairs, turned around, and saw this beauty staring right back at me:
My breath was taken away. You know how in the movies, when someone sees something so beautiful, the camera does a 360 around the person’s face as they begin to cry? That was me. This photo doesn’t even do it justice. I’m still shocked. I had tickets for a self-guided tour, so I entered and began to walk around. Spoiler alert: you can’t actually go into the theatre itself unless you have a ticket to see a show, but I’m already planning on buying one!
The insides were magnificent. I’ve never seen such beauty before. Every twist and turn I took unlocked more emotions. Not only is it an opera house, but it’s a museum and library too. The rooms are gorgeous, elegant, magnificent.
Look at these statues!!!!! INCREDIBLE.
Look at these ceilings!!!!! Ahhh!!!!
Literally……….the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I began crying again when I entered this room. It was real. I was really there. I’m still in shock. I splurged at the gift shop. Took more photos. Ate at a fancy restaurant across the street. I just……..it really happened. My dream came true. I’m in disbelief. It was magical and stupendous and other adjectives that I can’t think of right now. I was patient, I worked hard. It was a bootstraps-y kind of dream, but I did it. A little girl from a small town in Washington began to dream 10 years ago.
My dream came true. Yours can, too.