Visits to the opera, ballet, and café-concerts provided Edgar Degas with entertainment as well as a fertile source of subjects to draw. Here, a large smiling man holds his opera glasses in one hand while over his shoulder peers the composer Ernest Reyer, with a bowed head and a sad expression.
Degas outlined the figures using swift, broken lines, reducing the men's suits to a few slashing strokes. He drew over his mistakes, without taking time to erase the end of the sleeve that was started too high or the man's sloping chin that did not project enough at first. Postures and gestures were impatiently recorded in the most emphatic terms, without sacrificing spontaneity. The darker accents of the man's mustache and collar provide deep highlights to the otherwise pale and evenly toned work.