The celebration of two hundred years of an institution like the Teatro Real is a unique opportunity to strengthen and consolidate its identity as a top-class cultural institution and promote opera in Spain as a cultural meeting point thanks to commemorative programming starting in January 2016 and going on to the end of 2018. The fact it has been declared an event of exceptional public interest also means great recognition of the historic role of the Teatro Real and its contribution to culture.
“THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 200th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEATRO REAL, DECLARED AN EVENT OF EXCEPTIONAL PUBLIC INTEREST, IS A CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE, BECAUSE THE PAST LIGHTS THE WAY FOR A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRESENT, EARNING US THE FUTURE OF OUR DREAMS.”
The Teatro Real is ready to commemorate the 200th anniversary of its foundation by Ferdinand VII in 2018. Two hundred years ago, with the agreement of Madrid City Council, the king ordered the laying of the foundation stone of the new opera house on the site that had been occupied by the Teatro de los Caños del Peral. In 2017, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of its reopening, presided over by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía, after almost 75 years without opera on its stage.
The Teatro Real is a public foundation established by the Minister of Education and Culture and the Madrid regional government and presided over by the King and Queen of Spain. It includes the active participation of civil society, particularly personalities from the world of culture and business who are members of its Board. 70% of its budget is financed by private sponsorship and income from its own activities, and its management is autonomous, stable and professional, as is appropriate for one of the principal cultural institutions in Spain.
“THE TEATRO REAL HAS A HIGH INTERNATIONAL PROFILE, AS WELL AS BEING THE TOP NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE AND THE MOST IMPORTANT INSTITUTION FOR THE DRAMATIC AND MUSICAL ARTS IN SPAIN.”
As well as being the leading national opera house in Spain and the most important institution for the dramatic and musical arts, the Teatro Real enjoys a high international profile.
The Teatro Real’s artistic project achieves excellence, both in the performances of its own resident choir and orchestra and its programming. It includes the traditional and contemporary operatic repertoire, incorporating 20th-century music and the latest avant-garde productions. The Teatro Real offers the public a place to discover the best artists and creative spirits of our time and a space for genuine enjoyment, also promoting reflection on human passions and the reality of our times.
The Teatro Real pays great attention to new audiences, publicising opera among young people and using the most innovative technologies. These two commemorations have been declared by law an event of exceptional public interest, recognising the historic role of the Teatro Real and its contribution to culture today. They also mean a challenge for the future, because the past lights the way for a better understanding of the present, earning us the future of our dreams. Gregorio Marañón y Bertrán de Lis Chairman of the Teatro Real
GREGORIO MARAÑÓN Y BERTRÁN DE LISCHAIRMAN OF THE TEATRO REAL
“THE NEXT THREE YEARS WILL BE FACED AS A BIG CULTURAL CHALLENGE TO DEVELOP OPERA IN DEPTH AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF CULTURE AND INCORPORATE THE ACTIVITY OF THE TEATRO REAL ON THE GENERAL PUBLIC’S CULTURAL AGENDA OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC.”
The celebration of the Bicentenary of the foundation of the Teatro Real and the twentieth anniversary of its reopening is a particularly important for this institution. At the same time, it provides us with a magnificent opportunity to consolidate a project for the future with a clear desire for openness and social commitment in accordance with the status of a public foundation which is now the leading national opera house in Spain.
In this sense, the next three years are seen as a cultural challenge which, thanks to the quality, creativity and innovation of the artistic and musical programme we present now, must allow us to develop opera in depth as an essential element of culture. The ultimate aim must be the incorporation of the Teatro Real’s activities on the general public’s cultural agenda.
“TODAY, THE TEATRO REAL IS, MORE THAN EVER, AN INSTITUTION OPEN TO ALL AUDIENCES; VERY DIVERSE AUDIENCES DEMANDING A VARIED, ACCESSIBLE RANGE”
Today, the Teatro Real is, more than ever, an institution open to all audiences; very diverse audiences demanding a varied, accessible range. It is essential to promote other forms of relations with the public through new technologies in the audiovisual sphere so that the artistic range on offer at the Teatro Real overcomes physical and temporal barriers and goes outside the walls of the building. In this sense, the installation of screens outside the Teatro Real and at various points all over Spain will be one of the great commitments of the next few years.
“THE GREAT FOCUSES OF ACTION FOR THE BICENTENARY WILL ALLOW US TO GENERATE A RISING POPULAR AND PUBLIC MOVEMENT IN FAVOUR OF OPERA AND MUSIC”
Together with this, we would highlight opening up the venue to musical genres attracting new audiences and holding exhibitions inside and outside the Teatro Real, as well as initiatives relating opera activity with other art forms. All these will undoubtedly be great focuses for action allowing us to generate a rising popular and public movement in favour of opera and music.
I cannot end without thanking the different bodies showing the participation of civil society now present at the Teatro Real, such as the Amigos del Teatro Real, the Junta de Amigos, the Consejo Internacional and the Círculo Diplomático. To these must be added the sponsors and, very particularly, the fantastic team of workers who form the essence of the Teatro Real. They have managed to make it what it is today: a leading cultural reference inside our borders and beyond. Without them, this event would be impossible.
IGNACIO GARCÍA-BELENGUER LAITADIRECTOR OF THE TEATRO REAL
”THE COMMEMORATION OF THE BICENTENARY OF THE TEATRO REAL WILL ENCOURAGE THE OPENING UP OF ITS REPERTOIRE TO SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT OPERAS IN HISTORY. THIS FOLLOWS FROM THE CONVICTION THAT A REPERTOIRE AS A CONCEPT IS NOT SOMETHING STATIC, BUT RATHER SOMETHING THAT CHANGES AND EVOLVES”
The commemoration of the Bicentenary of the foundation of the Teatro Real will encourage the opening up of its repertoire to some of the most important operas in history which, for various reasons, have not yet been performed on its stage. In cooperation with the leading international theatres, with which the Teatro Real is going to collaborate in a series of extraordinary coproductions, part of the repertoire for the next few seasons is going to stress the new: new styles, new looks, new composers and works never before performed in Madrid. This follows from the conviction that a repertoire as a concept is not something static, but rather something that changes and evolves. And contributing to this evolution is one of the duties that the programme of an opera house like the Teatro Real cannot shirk.
After the forthcoming premieres of Moses und Aron by Arnold Schöenberg and Der Kaiser von Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann, the outstanding events of this season will be the arrival at the Teatro Real of what for many is Benjamin Britten’s greatest work, Billy Budd, which will be presented in a new coproduction with the Paris Opéra and the English National Opera for its premiere in Madrid. There will also be the Spanish premieres of Alberto Ginaster’s Bomarzo, in coproduction with De Nationale Opera of Amsterdam, and Yerma by Heitor Villa-Lobos, two of the best Latin American operas, as well as Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, one of the key operas of the second half of the 20th century.
“AFTER THE PREMIERES OF MOSES UND ARON AND DER KAISER VON ATLANTIS, THE MUST OUTSTANDING EVENTS WILL BE THE ARRIVAL AT THE TEATRO REAL OF BILLY BUDD AND THE PREMIERES OF BOMARZO AND YERMA, TWO OF THE BEST LATIN AMERICAN OPERAS, AS WELL AS DIE SOLDATEN”
As well as these four great 20th-century operas, the Teatro Real repertoire will include Rodelina, one of the great titles by Georg Friedrich Händel, coproduced with Oper Frankfurt, the Opéra in Lyon and the Gran Teatre del Liceu; as well as one of the masterpieces of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lucio Silla, both directed by Ivor Bolton and Claus Guth. There will also be performances of Catone in Utica by Leonardo Vinci; Giasone, the first opera by Francesco Cavalli to be incorporated into the Teatro Real programme; one of the greatest operas of the Russian repertoire, The golden cockerel, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, directed by Laurent Pelly; one of the great French 20th-century operas, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher by Arthur Honegger, with Josep Pons and La Fura dels Baus; another fundamental title by Britten – Gloriana – in a new production by David McVicar coproduced with the English National Opera in London; two of the greatest American 20th-century operas, Street scene by Kurt Weill and Dead man walking, by Jake Heggie, the latter starring Joyce DiDonato; Powder her face by Tomas Adès, El caballero de la triste figura by Tomás Marco, Dos delirios sobre Shakespeare by Alfredo Aracil; world premieres of La ciudad de las mentiras by Elena Mendoza and El abrecartas by Luis de Pablo, as well as Kaija Saariaho’s new opera Only the sound remains, produced by Peter Sellars and starring Philippe Jaroussky. Premieres coordinated with other venues, such as the Teatros del Canal, will include Le malentendu by Fabián Panisello, Picasso by Juan José Colomer and Wilde by Hèctor Parra.
“THE BICENTENARY PROGRAMME WILL MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR OPERA AND OTHER TEATRO REAL ACTIVITIES TO BE IDENTIFIED WITH LIVE ARTISTIC SHOWS”
Of course, other big events will focus on operas from the great repertoire including Norma de Bellini, with Maria Agresta and Gregory Kunder, which will be performed for the first time since the reopening of the Teatro Real; Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, with Olga Peretyatko and Javier Camarena; Otello and Aida by Giuseppe Verdi; Madame Butterfly, La Bohème and Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, all of them with star casts and the latter in a new Teatro Real production directed by Robert Wilson and coproduced with the Canadian Opera Company and the Lithuanian National Opera, with Nina Stemme in the leading role; Carmen by Georges Bizet in a coproduction with the Royal Opera House in London; Faust by Charles Gounod, and The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner with La Fura dels Baus.
Two emblematic and historic productions from the recent history of the Teatro Real will be revived: Aida by Verdi and El gato con botas by Xavier Montsalvatge. The latter will form part of the Teaching Programme, which will also include new productions of A midsummer night’s dream by Felix Mendelssohn, Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck, The sorcerer’s apprentice by Paul Dukas and The young person’s guide to the orchestra by Benjamin Britten, as well as other shows for children and family audiences.
The Bicentenary programme will also include an audiovisual project for recovering the historical heritage of Spanish opera running from the 17th century to the present day. Dance will also have an important presence, with companies including the Royal Ballet from London, the Staatsoper Ballet from Vienna, Sasha Waltz & Guests, the Martha Graham Dance Company and, of course, the Compañia Nacional de Danza and the Ballet Nacional de España.
Finally, the programme for the Bicentenary seasons is going to make it possible to stimulate the identification of opera and the Teatro Real’s other activities with live artistic shows. That means shows not limited to reproducing inherited musical and dramatic habits but also in tune with the universal problems, questions and passions of human beings today. Shows which, as Oscar Wilde would say, are a mirror for the spectator.
JOAN MATABOSCHARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE TEATRO REAL.
The history of the Teatro Real contains passages worthy of the libretto of one of the great works performed on its stage. Its almost two-hundred-year history begins in 1817, a year when Ferdinand VII ordered the remodelling of the Plaza de Oriente and the design of an opera house on the site where barely a year before the popular Teatro de los Caños de Peral had stood. In this way the king promoted the building of an operatic coliseum equal to the best in Europe. The foundation stone was laid on 23 April 1818, but technical and financial problems led to work being suspended long periods that succeeded one another throughout the 1820s and ‘30s. The project finally came to fruition in 1850, after 32 years of works and an investment of 42 million reales, when the Teatro Real was officially opened.
The Madrid opera house soon became a reference for lovers of the genre in Europe. During its first 75 years of life, some of the most outstanding singers of their times trod its board: the tenors Julián Gayarre, Giovanni Mario, Enrico Tamberlick, Miguel Fleta, the soprano Rosina Penco and the ultimate “diva” of the era, Adelina Patti. In 1863, Giuseppe Verdi attended the successful premiere at the Madrid opera house of his work La Forza del Destino.
After the 1868 revolution and the establishment of the First Republic, the building came to be named the Teatro Nacional de la Ópera. During these years and despite continuing works, the general state of preservation of the building left much to be desired. A partial collapse of the floor after the 1925 season had started led to the provisional closure of the theatre in 1925.
The Civil War and difficult post-war period hampered the works needed to dispel the danger of imminent ruin. Once again, then, there was a long period when one alteration scheme after another was followed by years of impasse, until, in 1965, a plan was put forward to convert the building into a concert hall. It was reopened in this form in October 1966, after forty years of silence.
From that date until 1988, with the opening of the Auditorio Nacional, the Teatro Real was the only concert hall in Madrid. Both the Orquestra Nacional and RTVE’s recently established Orquestra Sinfónica held their seasons there.
In 1984, the Ministry of Culture announced its intention to recover the theatre as an opera house and a second round of alterations began. After works lasting many years, on 11 October 1997, the Teatro Real reopened its doors as an opera house, with a double programme consisting of the work La vida breve and the ballet El sombrero de tres picos, both by Manuel de Falla. The inaugural gala was presided over by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía and broadcast on TVE. It was experienced as a night when the opera house resounded to the echo of a tradition rescued from silence and oblivion.
A week later, the Teatro Real experienced its first world premiere, with the performance of Divinas palabras by Antón García Abril. This began the presentation of a series of commissions from Spanish composers, including Don Quijote, by Cristóbal Halffter and La señorita Cristina by Luis de Pablo. Other world premieres since the theatre’s reopening as an opera house include the following works: Dulcinea, by Mauricio Sotelo; El viaje a Simorgh, by José María Sánchez Verdú; Faust-Bal, by Leonardo Balada; La página en blanco, by Pilar Jurado; Poppea e Nerone, by Monteverdi-Boesmans; The Perfect American, by Philip Glass; Brokeback Mountain, by Charles Wuorinen, and El Público, by Mauricio Sotelo.
In these almost 20 years, the Teatro Real has become established as a leading dramatic institution in Europe. In these almost two decades, a balance has been sought between works from the classical repertoire and contemporary creations. The opera house has hosted productions from the leading theatres in the world and top international singers, musical and theatrical directors and figures from the world of dance.