Barcelona’s opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, was founded on the Rambla in 1847 and has continued over the years to fulfil its role as a culture and arts centre
The basic aims of the Gran Teatre del Liceu are the creation of works of art that use music as their primary language and the dissemination of this art to the widest possible audience. The main tool for attaining these goals is the artistic programme defined in the “Programme Contract” between the government institutions and the theatre.
The fundamental lines of the Gran Teatre del Liceu’s artistic project are as follows:
To maintain a balance – for financial and artistic reasons, as is the practice in the foremost European theatres – between two basic components: works by new composers, with a view to providing as complete a range of operatic art as possible, and works from the classical repertoire which enjoy an established tradition and are highly popular with the audience.
To guarantee consistently top-quality performances by its orchestra and chorus. This important goal conditions the Liceu’s artistic discourse, the success of its programme, and its international prestige. These factors in turn determine the success of many essential initiatives aimed at disseminating its artistic activities, such as invitations to perform elsewhere and the publication of audiovisuals.
To ensure that productions continue to attract artists of worldwide prestige in line with the Liceu’s widely-acknowledged tradition. In order to limit expenditure on fees, it is important to contract soloists well in advance (as has been done until now) and to secure the necessary rights to make dissemination of the works viable. The Liceu must also continue to afford young singers opportunities for training and promotion by means of both “small-format” and full-scale performances that assist them in consolidating their reputation.
Dramaturgy and the personality of stage directors are factors that have acquired noteworthy importance in opera all over the world. Despite occasional controversies, the artistic policy adopted in this respect has decisively contributed to the popularity and success of the new Liceu. The chosen criteria have been as follows: to bring the most prestigious stage directors in Europe to the Liceu; to associate some of the finest stage directors in the country with the Liceu; to alternate traditional productions with others in which a literal interpretation of the stage directions is replaced by a new idiom which nevertheless respects the meaning of the work. Artistic and financial considerations make these new interpretations unavoidable. However productions featuring literal interpretations must alternate with innovative ones so as to guarantee a varied programme to satisfy an audience which, fortunately, is itself highly diverse. The decisive criterion, in any event, is the aesthetic quality of the proposed production, in other words the fidelity of the mise en scene to the meaning of the work.
The Liceu offers a wide range of productions for children and families. These performances must take the form of regular seasons and must enable the Liceu to stage its productions in other places, in line with the inter-institutional agreement defining it as a collective undertaking.