Gran Teatre del Liceu

Gran Teatre del Liceu (13)

It is impossible to walk down the Rambles and not stop in front of the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Not just for its façade, which is much more modest than the interior, but for what it means to opera lovers in general and for the people of Barcelona in particular.

When Barcelona watched the Gran Teatre del Liceu burn to the ground in 1994, it promised to rebuild it as quickly as possible, almost before the ashes has stopped smoking. 

It wasn’t the first time, either. In 1861, fire totally destroyed the stage and seating area, and it was restored by the architect Josep Oriol Mestres who worked with some of the best realist painters in 19th century Barcelona, in less than a year. 

A few years later, in 1893, in the middle of a performance of William Tell, an anarchist named Santiago Salvador blew up the stalls with a bomb which killed 20 people. On that occasion, the performances resumed just three months later.

Considered one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, the Liceu has staged some of the greatest operas for more than 150 years, with performances by the best tenors and sopranos of all time. 

Following its reconstruction, which respected the original decoration and style, it is also one of the most modern theatres as it has incorporated major new technology. With seating for an audience of 2,292 it is also one of the biggest opera houses in Europe. 

A little further down the Rambles is the Liceu shop – a cultural space promoting the theatre and the world of opera where you can have a coffee or buy a reproduction of the original score of your favourite opera. If you have time, you could also sign up for one of the guided tours.

You can admire the new Liceu – officially opened in 1999 - with your own eyes. See the faithful reconstruction and imagine yourself sitting in the box, or on one of the velvet covered iron seats of the stalls. Discover the technical innovations of the new stage, which allow for the scenes of more than one work at a time to be set up.  

But if there is one thing you shouldn’t miss, it is the pleasure of walking slowly down the grand marble staircase, with its 1901 modernist sculpture, to reach the vast columned vestibule, after having rested in the mirror hall. For decades, the aristocracy and the well-heeled Catalan middle class dressed up in their finery, and today we can still admire the most luxurious part of the Liceu which was miraculously saved from the fire. 

Open to the widest public, the Liceu includes not only the most traditional works, but also innovative proposals which have turned the opera into a space for living art, dance performances, concerts and recitals. 

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