Teatro Real in Madrid

Monday, 24 October 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Opera Houses, Theaters, Libraries
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© Carlos Delgado/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Carlos Delgado/cc-by-sa-4.0

Teatro Real (Royal Theatre) is a Spanish opera house located in Madrid. Known colloquially as El Real, the company was founded in 1818 and inaugurated on 19 November 1850. It closed in 1925 and reopened in 1966. Beginning in 1988, it underwent major refurbishment and renovation works and finally reopened in 1997 with a capacity of 1,746 seats. Founded by King Ferdinand VII in 1818, and after thirty-two years of planning and construction, a Royal Order on 7 May 1850, decreed the immediate completion of the “Teatro de Oriente” and the building works were finished within five months. The Opera House, located just in front of the Palacio Real, the official residence of the Queen who ordered the construction of the theatre, Isabel II, was finally inaugurated on 19 November 1850, with Donizetti’s La favorite.

The Teatro soon became one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe. For over five decades it hosted the most renowned singers and composers of the time. In the early period, it saw famous opera singers such as Alboni, Frezzolini, Marietta Gazzaniga, Rosina Penco, Giulia Grisi, Giorgio Ronconi, Italo Gardoni, Mario de Candia and Antonio Selva among many others. In 1863, Giuseppe Verdi visited the theatre for the Spanish premiere of his La forza del destino. At its peak, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Teatro hosted world renowned artists such as Adela Borghi, Marie Sasse, Adelina Patti, Christina Nilsson, Luisa Tetrazzini, Mattia Battistini, Julián Gayarre, Angelo Masini, Francesco Tamagno and Enrico Tamberlick. In 1925, the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev performed in the theatre with the presence of Nijinsky and Stravinsky.

From 1867 to 1925 the Teatro Real also housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory. In December 1925 a Royal Order ordered its activities to be discontinued owing to the damage that the construction of the Metro de Madrid had caused to the building. The government set out to restore it and ordered numerous projects to be drawn out for its renovation, such as that from architect Urdanpilleta Flórez, who proposed a monumental remodeling of the building. However, financial difficulties prevented the completion of these projects and led to a simple restoration, sponsored by the Juan March Institute, and carried out first by the architect Manuel Gonzalez Valcárcel, and later by architects Miguel Verdú Belmonte and Francisco Rodriguez Partearroyo.

The theatre reopened in 1966 as a concert hall as well as the main concert venue for the Spanish National Orchestra and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra. The reopening was celebrated with a concert of the Spanish National Orchestra conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and the Orfeón Donostiarra. In 1969, the 14th Eurovision Song Contest was held at the theatre, featuring an onstage metal sculpture created by surrealist Spanish artist Amadeo Gabino.

In the 1990s, the house was remodeled to host opera again. The building was completed in late 1995, then the process of technical, administrative, artistic and functional organization began which led to the opening of the theatre in 1997. The remodeling was based on the old classical style of opera house with only basic modernization leaving many seats without a view of the stage. A considerable percentage of seats have a limited or zero view of the stage and a live stream of operas and ballets is projected on the upper side walls of the house so that the entire audience can follow the performance regardless of their view of the stage. The first opera program performed for the reopening was Manuel de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos and La vida breve, which was immediately followed by the world premiere of Spanish composer Antón García Abril‘s Divinas Palabras (actually commissioned to open the house) with Plácido Domingo in the cast. The company staged the first modern revival of Vicente Martín y Soler‘s Il burbero di buon cuore in 2007, and the world premiere of Philip Glass‘ opera The Perfect American in 2013.

Teatro Real, with the Royal Box © Fss.fer/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Luis García/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Luis García/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Carlos Delgado/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Teatro Real, with the Royal Box © Fss.fer/cc-by-sa-3.0
The theatre stages around seventeen opera titles (both own productions and co-productions with other major opera houses in Europe and South America) per year, as well as two or three major ballets and several recitals, from September to July. The most popular operas at the Teatro Real have included Verdi‘s Rigoletto (given 387 performances), followed by Aida with 361 and Il trovatore with 342. Two works by Meyerbeer L’Africaine (with 268) and Les Huguenots (with 243) have been shown to draw audiences, although the former work has not been performed since the 1920s, being no longer considered mainstream repertory. Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia has been given some 218 performances since its debut in the house in 1919.

The Teatro Real celebrated its bicentenary with a special programme from 2016 through 2018. One of the operas featured was Bellini’s I puritani, a co-production with the Teatro Municipal of Santiago, Chile. A performance of this work was streamed in July 2016 via the Teatro Real’s Facebook page, an example of the theatre extending its reach by digital services. The event was also relayed to a number of venues and was a national trending topic on Twitter. The same production has been performed by the company (including orchestra and chorus) in August 2017 at the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

The orchestra of the Teatro Real is the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. The current artistic manager is Joan Matabosch, former director of Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. The current music director of the company is Ivor Bolton, since 2015. The current principal guest conductors are Pablo Heras-Casado and Nicola Luisotti. Bolton is scheduled to stand down as music director at the close of the 2024-2025 season. In July 2022, the company announced the appointment of Gustavo Gimeno as its next music director, effective with the 2025-2026 season, with an initial contract of 5 years.

The Opera House offers daily different types of guided tours, lasting between 50 and 90 minutes and given in various languages. This gives the public the opportunity to learn about the building, including the stage area, the workshops and the rehearsal spaces.

Read more on Teatro Real and Wikipedia Teatro Real (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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