Teatro Real Opera House
Madrid’s opera house, designed by the architect Antonio López Aguado during the reign of Queen Isabella I, was inaugurated in 1850 (although the first stone was laid on 23 April 1818). Located a stone’s throw from Puerta del Sol, the building was one of Europe’s leading theatres for over 75 years, until it was deemed unsafe in 1925 and closed for 41 years. In 1966 it was reopened as a concert hall with the Spanish National Orchestra as its resident orchestra. In 1977 it was declared a National Monument and in 1997, after 7 years of extensive works, the Teatro Real once again became home to Madrid’s opera scene.
The building displays a combination of architectural styles. The theatre’s crown jewel, however, is its 1,472 m² stage area. This is the heart of the opera house and allows for very complex set changes thanks to its 18 articulated platforms which permit multiple combinations both on the stage and in the orchestra pit. With a seating capacity of between 1,748 and 1,854, depending on the staging requirements, the theatre features 28 boxes on its different floors, in addition to eight proscenium boxes and a double-height Royal Box.
The only floor devoted exclusively to the general public is ‘La Rotonda’, which completely encircles the building. On this floor are four large halls, each decorated in a different colour and housing artwork from National Heritage collections and the Prado Museum. Their lights were made especially for the theatre at the Royal Factory of La Granja.
On 10 May 2021, the Teatro Real received the top honour at the prestigious International Opera Awards 2021, opera’s answer to the Oscars. Named Opera Company of the Year, Madrid’s opera house has been recognised both for its outstanding work in the 2019 season and for its trailblazing efforts to operate and return opera to the stage despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the opera house currently only offers self-guided audio tours in Spanish and English. The tour takes visitors to the foyer, the Royal Box, the main hall (which may be closed for technical reasons), a permanent photography exhibition, reception areas and the balcony.