Spain is a popular travel destination for everyone with passion for opera. Not only because of the numerous plays written by Spanish composers, but also because of their incomparable facilities offered in several cities. If you go to Spain, to discover its operas, you should not miss visiting the places Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao.
Source: Spain Premium Magazine
In Spain the opera started to develop in the 17th century, compared to France and Italy it was quite late. More common compared to the opera was spoken drama, which was the reason why Spaniards thought, that it was a less worthy form of art. When Spanish operas appeared, the writers Calderón de la Barca and Lope de Vega and composers like Juan Hidalgo de Polanco were most famous. Since this form of shows were not successful among the public, Spanish composers created another style, called Zarzuela. The form Zarzuela was more popular, it is a mixture of sung and spoken dialogue. The Baroque Zarzuela is a mixture of sophisticated verse drama, allegorical opera, song and dance. It was popular over 100 years throughout Spain and mainly experienced an upturn in the 18th century with the composers Sebastián Durón and Antonio Literes (with Accis y Galatea, 1708).
The following 60 years the typical Italian opera got popular. After that, there was once again a boom in Zarzuela. The composer Francisco Asenjo Barbieri mixed the Spanish Tonadilla and the old aristocratic drama and created a new form, called Italian comic opera. While one of his biggest rival, Emilio Arrieta, wrote plays, focusing more on the pure Romantic Italian style. Since 1960 very few new works have entered the repertory, but the popularity of the classic zarzuelas continues.
The probably most famous Spanish opera is Beatrix Cenci, two acts and a Spanish libretto by the composer Alberto Ginastera.
The city in the North of Spain in Andalucía, is one of the most famous places for operas in the country, that’s why it is also internationally known as the “city of opera”. The name arrived from the characters, which wandered through this town and are the stars of numerous operas. Some of the most popular ones are Figaro, Carmen and Don Giovanni. But also Don Juan Tenori, created by Beaumarchais, which influenced plays from Mozart and Rossini. Other famous writers inspired by the city include Verdi, Donizetti, Beethoven and Bizet.
Teatro de la Maestranza
The venue for all the operas taking place in Sevilla is called Teatro de la Maestranza, which received a lot of cultural prestige in 1992, when used to host the Sevilla expo. It held its first performance in 1991 and is since then an important setting for a varied cultural program including Opera, symphonic concerts, soloist recitals, international stars, classical ballet, modern dance, flamenco and chamber music, which lures all kinds of target groups. Due to the refurbishment in 2005 it is now considered as a “state-of-the-art” theatre and offers one of the best machineries in whole Europe, making it possible to represent the excellent acoustics for the most sophisticated productions.
The importance of opera in Barcelona started already in 1837 because of the Sociedad Dramática de Aficionados. The music conservatory was founded under the organization of liberal armed citizen militias. Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, located in the northeast of Spain, hosts two famous theatres: Gran Teatre del Liceu and Plau de la Musica Catalana.
Gran Teatre del Liceu
One of the oldest and a world leading opera house is the Gran Teatre del Liceu, which was aimed to create and display work of art. It was built in 1847 under the direction of the architect Miquel Garriga i Roca. After a big fire in 1994 the whole building got reconstructed according to the old plans and kept the original structure. It received the environmental Management system certificate according to ISO-14001 regulations in 2004 as the first theatre in Europe. Nowadays you can visit it during a tour or enjoying one of the famous operas, dance performances or symphonic music.
Palau de la Musica Catalana
The second important theatre located in Barcelona is the Palau de la Musica Catalana, which was built in Catalan Art nouveau, using sculptures, mosaic, stained glass and ironwork as decoration parts. It created the feeling of being in a magical music box when the daylight lightens the interior through the coloured glass. Since 1997 the theatre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the impressive operas taking place there, the must visits include the Lluís Millet hall, the balcony and the foyer of the Palau.
Since 1818 when Queen Isabel II ordered the construction of the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre), and its inauguration in 1850, Madrid is a main venue for everyone with passion for opera.
Perfectly located between the Plaza de Isabel II and Plaza de Oriente and in front of the Royal Palace, it has always contributed to Spanish culture. Due to being the host of performances like important national and international operas, music and dance shows, it is promoting and protecting Spanish artistic heritage and boosting its international cultural presence.
The 3rd biggest city of Spain, Valencia, located at the eastern coast, has both, a lot of historic, but also several contemporary buildings, which makes it internationally famous. One of the modern buildings with interesting design, the main location for music in the city, is the theatre Palau de les Arts Raina Sofia.
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia
Founded in 2005 and constructed by the Valician architect Santiago Calatrava it hosts operas, dance performances, recitals and theatre productions. The first opera which was performed in this venue was Beethoven’s Fidelio in 2006. The architect tried to build it in a modern design including floating structures, fitting to the location which is surrounded by more than 60.000 squaremeters of gardens, pathways and 11.000 square meters of water in reflecting pools. The construction is made out of broken mosaic tile which reflects the pools below.
The largest city of the region Basque country lies at the northern coast of Spain and has a special importance for opera lovers, due to the Bilbao Association of Friends of the Opera, ABAO-OLBE. It offers every year an opera season programme including one of the most famous international performances of art and is therefore essential for Bilbao’s culture and globally famous among people with interest in opera. The venue for operas in Bilbao is the Euskalduna conference centre, located in the heart of the city.
Euskalduna conference centre
The venue of Bilbao’s opera performances was opened in 1999 and designed by the architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios. It won the Enric Miralles award for architecture at the 6th Spanish Architecture Biennial in 2001. Besides operas organized by the association ABAO-OLBE it also hosts different economic, business, academic, political, institutional, social and cultural events and orchestras.
Spain offers a lot of different cultural activities and music has always been very important here. The classical performances of operas are popular whole over the world and various cities offer great venues for it. You are enthusiastic about operas and want to experience more about the Spanish ones?
Across Spain has recently launched its latest opera packages including the most important cities. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.