Notre Dame…

I’m sure everyone has seen the footage of Notre Dame in Paris on fire.

I have spent a lot of time in Paris – much of that time on my own. I used to walk to Notre Dame on many days, and simply sit in the cathedral for a while, occasionally attending a service, even though I’m not religious.

I thought it was terrible when far-right “activists” would go in there and shoot themselves at the altar to protest abortion or whatever. I thought that was as bad as it would get.

There was scaffolding on the part of the building that caught fire. Restoration work is so, so dangerous for historic buildings. Something very similar happened in Belfast when I was there last year.

On this day: a Ballet Premiere

Michaël Denard (James) et Ghislaine Thesmar (La Sylphide) entourés des « filles de l_air » lors du tournage du ballet en 1971 © Francette Levieux OnP

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The romantic ballet La Sylphide premiered in Paris on the 12th of March, 1832. The ballet was created by Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni as a showcase for his ballerina daughter Marie, the dancer generally credited with being the first to ever dance en pointe.

As the original production was lost, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte used old records and images to recreate a new production for the Paris Opera in the 1970s.

This promotional photograph by Francette Levieux is from the revival. It features Michaël Denard as James and Ghislaine Thesmar in the title role. Thesmar is the wife of Lacotte.

On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest

#65 Albert Lemaître in Peugeot 3hp at 1894 Paris-Rouen race (2nd place) but judged the official winner. Adolphe Clément is the front seat passenger.

The world’s first motorsport contest took place on the 22nd of July, 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France.

First, a selection event was held in which sixty-nine cars participated. The main 127 kilometre race had twenty-five contestants.

Marquis Jules Félix Philippe Albert de Dion de Wandonne (9 March 1856 – 19 August 1946) was a pioneer of the automobile industry in France.

Count Jules-Albert de Dion circa 1903

Count Jules-Albert de Dion was the first to complete the race, but as cars were also judged on other elements – such as safety – he was not declared the winner. He completed the race in 6 hours and 48 minutes, which averaged 19 kilometres an hour.

On this day: the premiere of Thaïs

1895 poster for Jules Massenet's opera Thaïs. This dates it to the original run.

1895 poster advertising the opera’s original run. X

Thaïs, a opera by Jules Massenet, had its premiere at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on the 16th of March, 1894.

ELSON(1891) p279 Sybil SANDERSON

Sibyl Sanderson in 1891

Massenet wrote the title role for American soprano Sibyl Sanderson, who performed in the premiere.

Jules_Massenet_by_Eugène_PirouJules Massenet, photographed by Eugène Pirou 1895

Jules Massenet in 1895

A famously difficult opera to perform, a revised version was presented at the same theatre four years after the first performance, though the production remains reserved for only the most talented singers.

 

On this day: Paris’ first Métro line opened in 1900

A train at Bastille station in 1908Sprague_Bastille_1908

A train at Bastille station in 1908.

On the 19th of July, 1900, Paris Métro Line 1 was opened to connect people travelling around the World Fair. Eight of the planned eighteen stations were initially opened.

Paris_Metro_construction_03300288-3

Under construction, early 20th century.

The decision to begin the construction of the train line was made in November 1898, after decades of discussion.