Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
In the Rambla of Barcelona stands the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Its construction was funded by Catalan businessmen, when it opened in 1847, and all kinds of shows were staged there. Then, it began concentrating on opera, dance and concerts. The Liceu has been the mainspring of social and cultural life in Barcelona.
On 31 January of 1994, the auditorium and stage were totally gutted by fire. The Liceu reopened in 1999. Three goals inspired the rebuilding process:
to improve the technical facilities and enhance the level of comfort; to reinforce its status as a public-service institution; to reproduce the decoration of the auditorium as it was prior to the fire. The auditorium preserved its horse-shoe-shaped layout. Its stalls and its five galleries. With seating for 2292 people, it is one of the largest Opera House in the world. The stage is equipped with the very latest technology and can be adapted to all kinds of operatic productions.
From the seats of the Liceu the audience can enjoy the very finest operas, performances by the most distinguished dance companies, concerts and recitals by the world’s leading artists. The Liceu offers culture for everyone. And now, from the cinemas as well. Welcome to the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Konzerthaus Vienna, Austria
The Wiener Konzerthaus is one of the largest and most artistically progressive institutions in international musical life. During the course of a season, which extends from September to June, some 750 wide-ranging events take place and more than 600,000 visitors can listen to around 2,500 different compositions. With this comprehensive and varied selection, the Wiener Konzerthaus – together with the Vienna State Opera House and the Musikverein – is central to Vienna’s reputation as one of the world’s leading music capitals.
Opéra de Monte-Carlo
L’Opéra de Monte-Carlo peut s’enorgueillir d’avoir su attirer, dès son inauguration en 1879,
les plus grands artistes de son temps.
Cette politique se poursuit, contribuant à créer un climat d’excellence rendu unique par
le splendide écrin voulu par Charles Garnier.
La Monnaie | De Munt
Designed by Louis Damesme in a neo-classical style, the façade of the theatre dates from 1819. In 1854 Eugène Simonis put the finishing touch to the façade in the form of a pediment with a bas-relief representing ‘The Harmony of Human Passions’. A dark-blue enamelled, plate steel ‘frieze’ serves to emphasize the top two floors and is a post-modern touch added during the renovation works carried out in 1985-86.
Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam
Zürich Opera House
The history of Zurich Opera House begins with the “Actien-Theater” (shares theatre), which opened in 1834 with Mozart’s “Zauberflöte”. Zurich’s first permanent theatre, it was established in the form of a joint stock company by theatre-loving citizens. The joint stock company (today known as Opernhaus Zürich AG) still runs the institution, and celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2009. The Canton of Zurich has been the main subsidiser since 1995. The old “Actien-Theater” burnt down in 1890 and was replaced by a new building designed by Fellner and Helmer. This theatre, located not far from Bellevue on Lake Zurich, was financed almost entirely by private means. It was inaugurated with Wagner’s “Lohengrin” under the name of “Stadttheater” (town theatre) in 1891. Musical theatre and drama have gone their separate ways in Zurich since 1921. The old “Stadttheater” has been known as the Opera House since 1964. Now with a seating capacity for approximately 1,100, the theatre was renovated entirely between 1982 and 1984, and an extension was added on Uto-Quai to accommodate a second, studio stage. In 1985 the opera orchestra was separated from the Tonhalle Orchestra, thus bringing the Zurich Opera Orchestra into being. Zurich Opera has had its own baroque ensemble (“La Scintilla”) since 1995, formed by members of the opera orchestra.
Festival Euro Mediterraneo - Teatro Antico Taormina
Teatro alla Scala, Milano
In 1776, under the auspices of Empress Maria Theresa, construction began on the buliding that was to become the greatest opera house in history. Two years later, in 1778 the Teatro Alla Scala was inaugurated with Antonio Salieri’s Europa. Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini and Puccini premiered their greatest Operas at La Scala. Today, La Scala is widely recognized as the ultimate challenge for the world’s greatest Opera virtuosos because of its passionate audiences, who always demand absolute perfection. When Luciano Pavarotti missed hitting a note perfectly in one performance, he was booed – he later said that the audience was right – he had made a mistake. 234 Years after its opening, La Scala’s magic can finally be experienced without travelling all the way to Italy.
Opéra de Paris
The Salzburg Festival was inaugurated on August 22, 1920, when Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s morality play Jedermann was premiered on the Domplatz, directed by Max Reinhardt. Initially the festival idea was based on the desire to establish outstanding artistic events of the highest standard in a close relationship with the cultural tradition of Austria, to the genius loci of a Baroque city. Thanks to the international charisma of the artists Max Reinhardt brought to Salzburg, and the visions of the founding fathers, the Salzburg Festival very quickly became a world attraction.
Since that time, the Salzburg Festival has established itself as the most important festival for opera, drama and concerts. It has become stylized as “the heart of the heart of Europe” and has always been place to explore new visionary concepts. The 2010 season celebrated the 90-year anniversary of the Salzburg Festival.
From 2012 onwards, the directorate will consist of Alexander Pereira as Artistic Director and Helga Rabl-Stadler.
Vienna State Opera House, Austria
On May 25, 1869, the opera house solemnly opened with Mozart’s DON JUAN in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.
The popularity of the building grew under the artistic influence of the first directors but it experienced its first high point under the direction of Gustav Mahler. He completely transformed the outdated performance system, increased the precision and timing of the performances, and also utilized the experience of other noteworthy artists, such as Alfred Roller, for the formation of new stage aesthetics.
On March 12, 1945, the opera house was devastated during a bombing. For the next ten years the Vienna State Opera operated in two venues while the true headquarters was being rebuilt at a great expense. Only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer had been spared from the bombs. On November 5, 1955, the Vienna State Opera reopened with a new auditorium and modernized technology. Under the direction of Karl Böhm, Beethoven’s FIDELIO was brilliantly performed, and the opening ceremonies were broadcast by Austrian television. The whole world understood that life was beginning again for this country that had just regained its independence.
Once a year, the Vienna State Opera is transformed into the most festive and most famous ballroom in the world – the Vienna Opera Ball. This unique festival is always the undisputed pinnacle of the ball season in Vienna, as is proven by its enormous international appeal.
Today, the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world; in particular, it is the house with the largest repertoire. It has been under the direction of Dominique Meyer, along with musical director Franz Welser-Möst, since September 1, 2010.
Arena di Verona, Italy
In the summer of 1913, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, the tenor Giovanni Zenatello and the theatre impresario Ottone Rovato took on the financial risk of promoting a magnificent lyrical festival. With the staging of Aida, the Arena di Verona became the biggest open-air lyrical theatre in the world, a supremacy that it still holds today.
From the most passionate lovers of lyrical music to the tourist who descends upon the opera out of curiosity: the Arena creates the meeting point for these two extremities, as it is capable of combining the quality of the music and of the vocal interpretation with the magnificence of the scenography and the magic historical context of the monument.
San Francisco Opera
Currently the second largest opera company in North America, San Francisco Opera is internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost producers of opera. The Company presents approximately 75 performances of ten operas annually in its performing home, the War Memorial Opera House. In its storied 87-year history, San Francisco Opera has presented 13 world premieres and 23 U.S. premieres, as well as the U.S. and professional debuts of artists like Mario Del Monaco, Valery Gergiev, Tito Gobbi, Pilar Lorengar, Charles Mackerras, Anna Netrebko, Birgit Nilsson, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Leontyne Price, Leonie Rysanek, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Georg Solti, Renata Tebaldi, and Jess Thomas.
At the helm of San Francisco Opera is General Director David Gockley, who began his tenure in 2006 after more than three decades as general director of Houston Grand Opera. During his first months at San Francisco Opera, Gockley took opera to the center of the community with a free live outdoor telecast of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Subsequent “simulcasts” have reached more than 100,000 opera fans throughout the Bay Area at venues like Stanford University and AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. In 2007, Gockley led the company to take this innovation even further and created the Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house. San Francisco Opera has also recently presented operas in movie theaters across the globe and can be heard regularly on national and international radio airwaves through San Francisco’s Classical 102.1 KDFC and the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago.
David Gockley’s partner in artistic programming and musical issues is Music Director Nicola Luisotti, who began his tenure in August 2009. Lauded by the New York Times as the company’s “ideal new maestro,” he continues to garner praise from both critics and audiences at the world’s preeminent opera houses and concert venues.
For more than 50 years, San Francisco Opera has offered an array of acclaimed training programs and performance opportunities for young artists under the auspices of the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program. Alumni include Mark Delavan, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Patricia Racette, Patrick Summers, Ruth Ann Swenson, Rolando Villazón, Deborah Voigt, and Dolora Zajick. The Company also reaches more than 50,000 Bay Area children and adults annually with its award winning education programs.
Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin
Experiencing a performance at the former Königliche Hofoper not only means enjoying the traditionally excellent conducting and ensemble, but also a visit to one of the world’s most beautiful opera houses. The “Enchanted Castle” was commissioned by Frederick II from his friend the architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. Construction began in July 1741 on what was intended to be the first part of a Forum Fredericianum. A full ten months before its actual completion the monarch’s impatience precipitated the opening of the Hofoper with a performance of Carl Heinrich Graun’s »Cleopatra e Cesare« on December 7th 1742. This event marked the beginning of the successful 250-year-old cooperation between the Staatsoper and Staatskapelle.
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden has a unique programme of concerts and operas, which ranges from Baroque operas in historical performance practice to the central works of the classical, romantic and modern opera literature to the realisation of premieres by contemporary composers. The performances are of the highest musical quality, something guaranteed by the presence of Daniel Barenboim as the general music director and by renowned guest conductors, a house ensemble of first-rate singers augmented by internationally known stars, and, not least, by the Berlin Staatskapelle. The productions reflect a commitment to these works from a modern perspective; they challenge conventional viewing habits, while remaining true to the spirit of the work.
During the urgently necessary renovation of the entire Staatsoper Unter den Linden, which began in 2010, the Schiller Theater in Berlin-Charlottenburg will serve the ensemble as an alternative venue from October 2010 until summer 2014. The repertoire will be performed there with the same commitment high artistic standard as in Berlin-Mitte.
Teatro Real, Madrid
Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
Teatro Regio di Parma
The Teatro Regio (Royal Theatre) opened in 1829, after a very long and rich theatrical and musical history in this culturally ebullient town.
The theatre was connected by aerial passages to the Duke’s Palace so as to enable the Dukes to move in safety, without the need for escorts, from their private residence to the church of S.Alessandro to the Riserva Palace and to the theatre itself, a sign of prestige probably inspired by the aerial passage of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.
The first decades of the Nineteenth century saw the repertoire of Teatro Regio in “triad” of “bel canto”: Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. From 1850 on comes Verdi into the repertoire, who, only few years after the consecration of the three most popular composers single-handedly became the most important and represented Italian composer in the world. In the following years, there was the introduction of names and music in Italy such as Meyerbeer, Gounod, Halèvy, Flotow, Bizet, Gomes, Massenet, Thomas, Saint-Saèns and finally Wagner.
In the 20th century the Teatro Regio began to live what was and still is the life of a theatre and it is considered as being the only theatre in the province which can compete with the great lyrical establishments in terms of notoriety, quality of scenery and staging, famous artists, number and competence of the audience.
Nowadays, the Teatro Regio confirms its inexhaustible vitality by reaffirming itself to be the most important theatre in the “traditional” classification and in spite of the existence of opera theatres which are much more favoured by legislation in terms of economic possibilities it often rivals them victoriously in the hearts of those who feel a great passion for the opera thanks to its worldwide fame and the quality of its performances. On its stage the greatest singers of the last few years: Alfredo Kraus, Josè Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, Renato Bruson, Raina Kabaivanska, Cesare Siepi, Boris Christoff and Barbara Hendricks.
The extraordinary activity on the stage of the Regio is beautifully matched by the position the theatre has always had: The Teatro Regio is the heart of Parma, geographically, culturally and sentimentally.
Teatro Regio Torino
The «Teatro Regio» of Torino, built in the record time of two years, was inaugurated on December 26th 1740 with Arsace by Francesco Feo. It immediately became an international reference point because of its capacity – about 2,500 seats among the stalls and the five tiers of boxes –, the magnificent decorations in the auditorium with the vault painted by Sebastiano Galeotti, the impressive scenes and the technical equipment, as well as the quality of the performances.
Each season began on 26 December, concluded with the end of Carnival and included two new opere serie written specially for the Teatro. During the 18th Century such celebrated Italian composers as Galuppi, Jommelli, Cimarosa and Paisiello wrote for the Regio, as did foreign authors like Gluck, Johann Christian Bach and Hasse. Other important composers in the history of the Regio are Wagner, Massenet, Puccini, who christened Manon Lescaut (1893) and La bohéme (1896) in Turin, and Strauss, who in 1906 conducted Salome in the Italian “première”.
During a night in February 1936 the Teatro was destroyed by a violent fire: it took almost forty years to rebuild it.
The new Teatro Regio was inaugurated on April 10th 1973 with Giuseppe Verdi’s opera I Vespri Siciliani, with Maria Callas and Giuseppe Di Stefano. Since that date productive activity has been progressively increasing, right up to the occasions that have left their mark on the history of the Regio’s recent years: in 1990 the 250th anniversary of its founding, in 1996, live on TV, the centennial of the absolute “première” of Bohème; in 1998 the 25 years of the new theatre (with an important acoustic restoration); and in 2006 the extraordinary adventure of the XX Winter Olympic Games and the Olympics of Culture.
Bregenz Festival, Austria
One year after the end of the Second World War, the first Bregenz Festival was held: the week-long Bregenz Festwoche. The inaugural performance was staged upon two barges moored on Lake Constance – one carrying the stage structures for Mozart’s early work Bastien et Bastienne, the other the orchestra. In a town that did not even possess a theatre, the idea of mounting a festival seemed eccentric; but the initially makeshift solution of choosing the loveliest part of the town – the lake – as the stage proved to be a hugely successful one. Visitors from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France made the Festival an international event in its very first year. The Festival orchestra from the outset was the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, which has made a major contribution to the evolution and success of the Festival.
Thanks to strong public interest, the Festival became longer each year and its program became more varied. To accommodate the growing audience, the stage and festival house have been refurbished and enlarged over the years.
The Bregenz Festival made its debut on the cinema screen in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace. The Opera has been incorporated intriguingly into the action of the film: the chase through the Festspielhaus is at the end like an apocalyptic silent film – interspersed with dramatic scenes from the Bregenz Tosca.
In 2010 Aida had attracted the biggest number of spectators to the Seebühne stage in the festival’s history and it is now available on the big screen, this time in full length.
Festival de Peralada, Spain
The Festival Internacional de Música de Peralada is held in Peralada, a medieval site of great historic interest, with a beautiful castle and Renaissance palace, in the gardens of which the Festival is held during July and August.
Musical entertainments have taken place within the historic site of Peralada Castle since 1983,
organised by the Castell de Peralada Casino and making the most of the pleasant summer
The increasing success of these productions encouraged Mrs. Carmen Mateu de Suqué to
create the Associació Cultural Castell de Peralada, in order to turn the musical entertainments
into a classical music Festival, once it was decided that Casinos de Catalunya would sponsor
these events. Thus the Festival Castell de Peralada was born during her presidency. Her
Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain accepted the Honorary Chair of the Festival from the outset,
and has attended several concerts over the years. The deputy Chair was also taken, from the
beginning, by the Right Honourable Mr. Jordi Pujol. The Festival was first held in 1987 and
since 1992 is a member of the European Festival Association, together with such important
names as Bayreuth, Berlin, Florence and Salzburg. From this year, it is also member of Opera
Europa, FestClásica and Ópera XXI.
The Festival has taken place annually since then. It has two musical venues: the gardens, protected by a superb excellent acoustic soundbox, known as Castle Gardens Auditorium and, lastly the XIV century Carmen’s Church, used principally for recitals, thanks to its excellent acoustics.
The Festival attaches importance to recitals by major voices, chora-symphonic concerts,
operas, often specially staged productions, mixed discipline music, theatre and dance shows
and to supporting Spanish composers and performers. It also hosts internationally prestigious
soloists and ballet companies.
The Festival has achieved rapid recognition because of the quality of the music in its programme and the participation of major artists, which have brought about unusual musical happenings.
Such is the case of the première of the opera Babel 46 by our excellent composer Xavier
Montsalvatge and the recovery of Isaac Albéniz’s work Pepita Jiménez.
San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has emerged as a world-class arts organization since it was founded as the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1933. Initially, its primary purpose was to train dancers to appear in lavish, full-length opera productions. In 1942, the Company became a totally separate entity from the opera and was renamed San Francisco Ballet.
In 1972, after performing in various San Francisco theaters, the Company settled permanently in the War Memorial Opera House for its annual residency. In 1981, Smuin’s The Tempest—the first ballet ever broadcast live from the War Memorial Opera House—was nominated for three Emmy Awards (Willa Kim received the award for Outstanding Costume Design).
The San Francisco Ballet has also enjoyed frequent overseas tours, including engagements at prestigious venues such as the famed Opéra de Paris-Palais Garnier in Paris (1994, 2001); London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre (1999, 2004) and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (2002); Athens’ Megaron Theatre (2002); the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles (2003); and the Edinburgh International Festival at the Edinburgh Playhouse (1997, 2003).
The San Francisco Ballet continues to enrich and expand its repertory and presents approximately 100 performances annually. The Company’s vast repertory includes works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Christopher Bruce, Val Caniparoli, Lew Christensen, Nacho Duato, Flemming Flindt, William Forsythe, James Kudelka, Jirí Kylián, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne McGregor, Agnes de Mille, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Hans van Manen, Peter Martins, Mark Morris, Rudolf Nureyev, Marius Petipa, Roland Petit, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Terme di Caracalla, Roma
Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Liège
Founded in 1967, the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège is situated on the border between France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany. Due to its geographical location and its high-quality scheduling, it attracts a demanding, and increasingly large, international audience.
Its reputation is constantly growing too, thus attracting internationally renowned artists and prestigious conductors: Ruggero Raimondi, Juan Diego Florez, José Cura, Rolando Villazon, James Morris, José Van Dam, Patrizia Ciofi, Marianna Cornetti, Simone Alaimo, Daniele Gatti, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Scimone, Paolo Arrivabeni – currently Musical Director –, Alberto Zedda and Patrick Davin, to name but a few.
In its scheduling, Italy, the cradle of opera, occupies a choice position. Works stemming from the 19th century repertoire (with Verdi and Puccini topping the bill) occupy a major place on the schedule, but its vocation of discovery also pushes the Opéra Royal de Liège towards the lesser known repertoire of the 18th century, with composers such as Cherubini, Cimarosa and Grétry.
The Opéra Royal de Liège also tackles demanding operas such as Der Ring des Nibelungen in its entirety, Mefistofele, Samson et Dalila, Messa da Requiem, Lucrezia Borgia, Ariadne auf Naxos, Arabella and Boris Godounov.
With an impressive orchestra which excels at various operatic styles and a chorus which has mastered a broad repertoire, the institution is recognised unanimously by the audience, the specialist critics and the professional world, recognition which has earned it an invitation to the Baalbeck International Festival and, next July, the Santander International Festival.
The Waldbühne in Berlin is one of the most appealing outdoor amphitheaters on the European continent. With over 20,000 attendances, these are some of the most popular classical music concerts in the world.