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Teatre del Liceu – Teatre Nacional de Catalunya

Posted by: Hotel Curious at 2010-01-27

Hotel Curious owes an apology to Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona for being so late (more than 80 posts) to dedicate a post to them: This old opera theater it's among the best of the world, and it's only three streets away from us, in Las Ramblas.

The history of this emblematic building begins in 1837, when a battalion of National Militia headed by Manuel Gibert i Sans created the Liceo Filodramático de Montesión in the convent of Montsió, where today is el Portal de l'Àngel (next to Catalunya sq.) to promote the teaching of music and play the escenic representations and operas from the students. The next year they changed the name and called it Liceo Filarmónico Dramático de S.M la Reina Isabel II, and remained there until 1844 when had to leave the convent because of the lack of space and the nuns, that recovered the rights of the building property and claimed for it.

That was when the council awarded the purchase of the building of the Trinitarians Convent, located in Las Ramblas (to be more especific at La Rambla dels Caputxins). And that's how the Liceu got the place where today is built. The project was in charge of Miquel Garriga i Roca and it's distinguished from the other big european theaters because the building was economically supported exclusively by individual shareholders; the Queen Isabel II did not participate, and that's why is the only european theater without a royal box. That's the reason why the Liceu was a catalan bourgeoisie symbol; those who funded the theater were granted with a seat or a box for life, and the name changed again to Liceo Filarmónico Dramático. The play that inaugurated the operistic activities was Anna Bolena, of Gaetano Donizetti in April of 1847.

In April 1861, the Liceu burned for first time because of an unextiguished light oil. All made of wood, only remained the stone estructure. During the revolution a crowd broke into the theater and stole the bust of Queen Isabel II situated at the main stairs. It was really representative: they dragged it along Las Ramblas and dropped it to the sea. The bust was replaced by an allegorical sculpture, erasing all royal vestige in the theatre.

As a bourgeoisie symbol, the anarchist movement saw the Liceu as the representation of the ruling oligarchy. This identification induced the events of the 7th of November in 1893, when during the season inauguration night, the anarchist Santiago Salvador threw two Orsini bombs to the audience, just exploded one, but taking twenty lifes away. This event shaked the city and, for years, the seats occupied by the victims ceased to be used (nowadays a film is being realized about this history). The Liceu closed and did not open until the 18th of January of 1894.

During the 20's, textil business prospered in Catalunya. Liceu renewed it's decoration and became one of the theaters that played the highest quality shows in the world. And the same for the audience, wich requirements and level knowledge were on a par. Was during the Civil War when the Liceu was nationalized and changed the name to Teatre del Liceu – Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Liceu Theatre – Catalonia's National Theatre).

During the economic crisis of the seventies Liceu was deeply affected: the owners could not cope with the increasing costs of quality performances and showed an overall decrease in. When the last promoter deceased in 1980, revealed the needing of a government intervention if they wanted to be a major opera house again. Was in 1981 when Generalitat de Catalunya, collaborating with the City Hall and Gran Teatre del Liceu Society, founded the Gran Teatre del Liceu Consortium. During the following decades, the theater became popular and profitable, recovering some of the quality of the works represented.

The revitalization process was interrupted on January 31 1994 when el Liceu burned again. This time caused by a spark from a blowtorch that burned down the curtains. The fire spread quickly to the roof so in few minutes got uncontrollable, destroying almost the entire theater. Thanks to the Foundation for Gran Teatre del Liceu it was rebuilt just like it was, introducing the required improvements. Then became completely publicly owned, because the Gran Teatre del Liceu Society ceded its part of the administration. To obtain the money required, half the budget was raised from private funds.

Reopened after five years with "Turandot" by Puccini, which was the work that had to be played at the time of the accident, resuming the economic recovery started in the eighties. Increasing the number of performances of each work, popular sessions with young singers, reduced season tickets, live view works in movies, plays on You Tube and other alternatives that Hotel Curious guests can take advantage on their visit to the city, furthermore than visiting the spectacular building.

Don't miss it!

Gran Teatre del Liceu

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