Madrid’s El Real Is One of The World’s Grand Opera Houses:
Madrid’s Teatro Real (Royal Theatre) or El Real is one of the many grand opera houses in the world. Located just in front of Madrid’s Palacio Real (Royal Palace), the Teatro Real was completed on the instructions of Queen Isabel II.
Teatro Real opened in November 1850 to the inaugural performance of Donizetti’s La Favorite. El Real had the honour of hosting Verdi when he visited Madrid in 1863 for the Spanish premiere of his La Forza del Destino and the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev made a debut performance in the Teatro Real with the presence of Nijinsky and Stravinsky.
Teatro Real’s History
There has been a theatre on the El Real site since 1708. When the decision was made to pull down the previous building and to replace it with a new theatre, it went through thirty-odd years of planning and construction interruptions due to lack of funding. When Queen Isabel II gave the Royal Order in May 1850 to have it completed, the building works were finished within five months!
From 1867 until 1925, the Teatro Real housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory. Due to the deterioration of the building, the Conservatory was evicted and preservation works began, but this stalled due to the outbreak of Civil War. In 1965 further refurbishment took place and in 1966 Teatro Real reopened as a concert theatre and the main concert venue of the Spanish National Orchestra and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra. The 14th Eurovision Song Contest was held at El Real in 1969 and it featured a metal sculpture on stage which was created by Salvador Dalí.
Still there was some controversy as to the purpose of the building and eventually it was decided to restore Teatro Real to its original splendour and to establish it as an operatic venue. In 1997 Teatro Real was officially opened as Madrid’s opera theatre with the ceremony attended by the King and Queen of Spain. The first opera program performed after the reopening was Manuel de Falla’s El Sombrero de Tres Picos and La Vida Breve. There’s no looking back since that time.
The Madrid opera house stages about seventeen opera titles each year and some ballets and recitals are held here as well. The Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid is the resident orchestra. Each year its New Year’s Gala Concert is broadcast live across Europe through ARTE, the cultural Franco-German television station.
Getting to Teatro Real:
Metro: Stop Ópera or Sol
Bus : Stop Plaza Isabel II – Nos. 3, 25 and 39
Plaza Isabel II s/n
Map of Madrid
Things to do in Madrid