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The Royal Theatre, Madrid’s opera house, celebrates its 200th birthday

By | 20 January, 2018 | 0 comments

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Known popularly as “El Real”, Madrid’s opera house stands proud in Plaza de Oriente, one of the most famous squares in the centre of Madrid. This year, 2018, sees it celebrate its 200th birthday since work began on its construction on April 23, 1818. Today, after many vicissitudes, it has become one of Europe’s main opera theatres in its own right, with close to 200 shows every year and the presence of some of opera’s finest figures, with productions by Pizzi, Sellars, Carsen and Haneke among others.

Its construction cost 42 million “reales” and took almost 40 years, since the project was interrupted various times due to the many political changes which took place in the early Nineteenth century. Finally, on November 19, 1850, the theatre opened its doors with the performance of La Favorite by Donizetti.

Since then, as well as its role as a lyrical theatre, in 150 years of operation it has been home to royal courts, dance halls and even military barracks during the Spanish Civil War. It also survived a fire in 1867 and a partial collapse in 1925. Another curiosity that not many people know is that the building’s floor has the shape of a coffin.

The Royal Theatre has been renovated and refurbished many times and since 1993 it is considered an Asset of Cultural Interest of Spain’s Historical Heritage. The Madrid Friends of the Opera Association organises daily guided tours of the building between 10.30 a.m. and 1.00 p.m., with an approximate duration of 60 minutes.

Photo (CC) Carlos Delgado

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