Marc Chagall’s Ceiling for the Paris Opéra - 4th series of panels

Marc Chagall1963-01-01/1964-09-23

Opéra national de Paris

Opéra national de Paris
Paris, France


Beethoven, “Fidelio”. Dominant colours: blue and green. Leonora’s movement towards the blue cavalier, who brandishes his sword.


Ravel, “Daphnis et Chloé”. Dominant colour: red. Along with the (blue) sheep and temple of the first act, the extraordinary figure of the Siamese couple (“There was a time when I had two heads / There was a time when these two faces / were coated in amorous dew / And melted like the fragrance of a rose…” – poem by Chagall), which Chagall had already included in the curtain that he painted for the Opéra in 1858, and which can be seen as completing the amorous osmosis begun in “The Walk”, a painting from 1929 showing a couple standing/walking head-to-foot in the street. It is naturally accompanied by a Eiffel Tower, a recurrent motif in Chagall’s paintings. In 1958 Chagall designed the sets and costumes for Georges Skibine’s revisiting of the choreography of “Daphnis et Chloé” [1]. In 1961 he illustrated the publisher Tériade’s edition of the original tale, attributed to Longus.

Stravinsky, “The Firebird”. Dominant colours: red, green and blue. In the top left area, the painter (Chagall) with his palette and the bird which, curiously, is green; on the right, an angel musician whose cello is also its body, stands near the magic tree containing the bird. Below are the domes and roofs, no doubt of the magic castle, and a bird, red this time, flying down towards a crowned couple beneath a canopy. To one side, a young married couple, a peasant carrying a big basket of fruit on his head and an orchestra. Should the proximity of the Eiffel Tower (in the Ravel section of the ceiling) be taken as an allusion to “Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel” (1928)? To the right, above the head of Walter and Bourgeois’ “Pomona”, a violinist bends lovingly over his instrument. Chagall designed the sets and costumes for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Firebird” in 1945 (choreography by Massine).

[1] Cf. André Boll, « Les décors de Marc Chagall pour Daphnis et Chloé », in “Spectacles”, Paris, n°3


  • Title: Marc Chagall’s Ceiling for the Paris Opéra - 4th series of panels
  • Creator: Marc Chagall
  • Date: 1963-01-01/1964-09-23, 1963-01-01/1964-09-23
  • Copyrights: © Adagp, Paris 2014 Chagall ®

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