Liceu Theatre

Liceu Theatre
   The Gran Teatre del Liceu (Great Theatre of the Liceu) in Barcelona, is in the process of reconstruction after being completely gutted by fire in January 1994. The oldest active opera house in Spain and among the most important world-wide, it was the brain child of Joaquim de Gispert, who financed its construction on the site of a former monastery by selling the theatre boxes (palcos) as shares. Opened in 1847, and reconstructed after a fire in 1861, it became the venue for productions of opera, ballet, music and drama performed by world class artists. It was so closely identified with the leisure pursuits of the wealthy Barcelona bourgeoisie in the 1890s that it became the target of a notorious anarchist bomb attack, in which twenty-one people were killed. On a more positive note, it was the scene of José Carreras" professional début in 1970. Owned and financed until 1980 entirely by the Society of Owners with some 400 members, some of them direct descendants of the original share/ box holders, and from 1980 by a consortium of the Owners, the Generalitat, the City Council and the Provincial Council of Barcelona, and the Ministry of Culture, the theatre passed completely into public ownership after the 1994 fire and is governed by the Liceu Foundation.
   In the reconstruction plan outlined in 1995 the general appearance of the theatre was to be restored with its red plush stall seating and gilded mouldings. The stage, stall and dress circle boxes were also to be rebuilt for the use of the original owners and for the consortium of banks and businesses which was expected to contribute as much as 45 percent of the cost of reconstruction, estimated at 9,680m pesetas. But advantage was to be taken of the rebuilding to remove the boxes on the upper circles, to improve the view of the stage by reducing the overall seating and heightening the proscenium arch, to provide for vertical scene shifting and to facilitate television filming by improved lighting. It was planned to have the reconstruction completed in 1997 for the 150th aniversary of the theatre.
   See also: music; opera; performing arts
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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