The old National Opera fell into disgrace after a failed assassination attempt against the emperor Napoleon III. The square in front of it had been cleared by the Haussmann's urban reorganization project in preparation for construction of the new opera. An open contest had been held, and the winner among the 171 applicants had been the most exuberant project of all, belonging to the young architect Charles Garnier. The opening took place in 1875. Chaliapin, Nijinsky, Nureyev performed here. The ceilings have been painted by Marc Chagall.