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The opera house Gran Teatre del Liceu

Barcelona's opera reopened in 1999

The Gran Teatre del Liceu is one of the most important opera houses in Europe and one of the most beautiful attractions of Barcelona. The greatest singers of the last two decades performed the most important classic opuses at this opera.
Performers like Domingo, Pavarotti, Caballé, Callas or Tebaldi will always have a special place in the hearts of the audience. The Gran Teatre del Liceu is also place of the second largest Wagner Festival, the largest taking place in Bayreuth, Germany.

The beginnings of the opera in Barcelona go back to the Sociedad Dramática de Aficionados in 1837. This organization of liberal, armed citizen militias founded a music conservatory. Under the direction of Queen Isabel II, this conservatory became the "Liceo Filármonico Dramático Barcelonés" in 1838.

Tickets for opera performances

The success of this opera house inspired a group of leading upper-class men from Barcelona led by Joaquim de Gispert d'Anglí. They wanted to build a new and more glorious opera house than the conservatory could afford under royal direction. In order to raise the funds, they founded a society accumulating profits of stock trade operations. The members of the “Societat de Propetaris”, this building society, had priority claims to most of the theatre boxes.

The opera house, built according to the plans of the architect Miquel Garriga i Roca, was inaugurated on April 4, 1847. It was the largest opera house in Europe holding 4,000 seats. Starting in 1855, the Societat de Propietaris was the sole responsible for the operation of the opera house, having effected a separation form the conservatory. In 1861, the Liceu was afflicted by a fire which completely destroyed the auditorium and the stage. However, the opera house was renovated and reopened in the following year already.

Reconstruction of the Liceu after the fire in 1994

Already in 1986, there were plans for the extension and modernization of the building. Based on these plans by Solà Ignasi de Morales, the Liceu was reconstructed. Reconstruction was made almost entirely according to original plans as of after the renovations in 1861 and 1877. Many undamaged original parts were re-used.

The magnificent foyer and mirror hall were rebuilt according to the original. Below the concert hall, an auditorium with a restaurant was built as a break room for visitors. The stage was equipped with modern technology. The curtain was renovated and designed by the artist Antoni Miró. The seats of the upper floors that did not allow visual contact to the stage were equipped with TV technology. The geometry of the concert hall, while mostly maintaining the original design, was slightly adjusted according to modern concepts of acoustics.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu was reopened in 1999 and now holds almost 2,300 seats on six floors. The Liceu has become an important cultural location of Barcelona.

Financing of operas at the Liceu

Since its first opening in 1847, theatre and opera productions were assigned to investors who in return got the profits of ticket sales. This did not include seats reserved by the Societat.

Around 1975, it became obvious that this type of financing would no longer bring the required profits. A consortium was created by the city of Barcelona, the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu, which was the official name of the Societat de Propietaris. In 1980, the purely private financing by sponsors was replaced by public financing in order to save one of the internationally most renowned opera houses.

The fire on January 31, 1994 destroyed the Liceu almost entirely. This had extraordinary effects on the Catalan society. There were wide discussions whether the house was to be rebuilt or not. A new legal basis had to be created for the reconstruction of this iconic building. The assets and all privileges were transferred in a foundation, the Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu. From then on, the house was entirely subject to public administration.

Visiting the Liceu

The Gran Teatre del Liceu can be visited daily with a variety of tours. Here, the most important and representative rooms can be visited:

The Express Tour is a short, approximately 40 minute tour of the main areas of the house. Here you’ll see the foyer, the hall of mirrors, some theatre boxes and the large hall. The Express Tour starts daily every hour from 14.00 to 18.00, on weekends from 9.30.

Moreover there is the major Guided Tour with a tour guide. This takes about 50 minutes, and you will get to see the stage, backstage and other rooms in the background of the Liceu's stage operations. The tour starts daily at 10:00.

Please note that tours may not take place for operational reasons, e.g. rehearsal or shows.

The entrance for the tours is to the left of the main entrance and leads downstairs to a café and a shop, where you can buy books and CDs. In front of the shop there is a cash desk and the tour registration desk.

Important information

La Rambla, 51-59
Phone: +34 934 859 914

Metro: Liceu (L3)
Bus Turístic: Colom - Museu Marítim

Opening times
Guided Tour: Mon.-Fri. 9.30, 10.30, 11.30, 12.30 (not on bank holidays)
Express Tour: daily every hour from 14.00 to 18.00. On weekends from 9.30.
Due to technical and/or artistic reasons the tours can be cancelled.
Shows are often fully booked, tickets should be booked early.

Guided tour (incl. stage and backstage, about 50 minutes):
Regular: €16.00
Reduced: €12.00
Children up to 7 years: free

Express Tour (about 45 minutes):
Regular: €9.00
Reduced: €7.50
Families: €20.00
Children up to 7 years: free

With the Barcelona Card 25% discount on guided tour and 16.66% on Express Tour.

Information on visiting the Gran Teatre del Liceu

Guided Tour: in English
Express Tour with audio guide in following languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
The tours can be canceled or shortened at any time because of rehears.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

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