Teatro Real, Madrid

The Teatro Real (literally Royal Theatre) or simply El Real (as it is known colloquially), is a major opera house located in Madrid, Spain.


After thirty-two years of planning and construction, a Royal Order on 7 May 1850 decreed the immediate completion of the "Teatro de Oriente" and the building works were finished within five months. The Opera House, located just in front of the Palacio Real, the official residence of the Queen who ordered the construction of the theatre, Isabel II, was finally inaugurated on 19 November 1850, with Donizetti's La Favorite. In 1863, Giuseppe Verdi visited the theatre for the Spanish premiere of his La Forza del Destino. In 1925, the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev performed in the theatre with the presence of Nijinsky and Stravinsky).

From 1867 it housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory until 1925 when a Royal Order on 6 December called for eviction owing to the damage that the construction of the Metro de Madrid had caused to the building). The theatre reopened in 1966 as a concert theatre and the main concert venue of the Spanish National Orchestra and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra. In 1969, the 14th Eurovision Song Contest was held at the theatre, featuring an onstage metal sculpture created by surrealist Spanish artist, Salvador Dalí.

In the 1990s, the house was remodelled to host opera again and reopened in 1997. The first opera program performed for the reopening was Manuel de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos and La vida breve, which was immediately followed by the world premiere of Spanish composer Antón García Abril's Divinas Palabras (actually commissioned to open the house) with Plácido Domingo in the cast. The company staged the first modern revival of Vicente Martín y Soler's Il burbero di buon cuore in 2007.

The company

The theatre stages around seventeen opera titles (both own productions and co-productions with other major European opera houses) per year, as well as two or three major ballets and several recitals. The orchestra of the Teatro Real is the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. The current general director is Gerard Mortier.


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