Opera ballet

Hamish Bowles at the 2018 Paris Opera Gala Opening Night with Keira Knightley, Marion Cotillard, Ellie Bamber and more

After intermission, after flaunting the company’s classic chops, we were in for a very different experience with a program of works choreographed by Ohad Naharin for Tel Aviv’s famed Batsheva Dance Company, which introduced a whole new language of contemporary dance which he calls Gaga. The dancers grimace, scream and rush around the stage with dazzling athletic power and synchronized grace. Dupont herself appeared as a guest artist in a poetic duo at Bolero with Diana Vishneva, the pair dressed by Karl Lagerfeld in chic LBD. (Rakefet Levy designed the rest of the costumes.) But there were also surprising onstage cameos from some audience members, who were dragged into the performance by the dancers who jumped off the stage to find their careers somewhat dazed. . Each of these “guest performers” acquitted themselves of impressive nerve and invention, some of them really enthusiastically entering the dances with the incredibly brilliant dancers.

Ovations and multiple encores followed breathtaking performances, and the public left in apotheosis for dinner in the foyers of the Palais Garnier. A triumph of gilded Third Republic grandeur and firefighter art murals, these galleries might provide one of the most spectacular settings for restoration in Paris, which, as we know, is really saying something. Dinner lived up to the setting with each course designed by a star chef – Christophe Pelé (from the Clarence) created the delicate poached sea bass starter; Tatiana Levha from Le Servan restaurant, a dish of roasted lobster, aubergines and cherries as pretty as a photograph; while Giovanni Passerini was responsible for pistachio and lovage ice cream, and Sébastien Gaudard for sweets.

Thank goodness the party continued at the Rotonde des Abonnés below the auditorium, where flocks of the finest young people in Paris (many of whom were the dancers themselves, of course) seemed to have converged. The rest of the evening was spent dancing to sensational records by DJs Ariel Wizman, Agathe Mougin and Wladimir Schall.