Teatro Real (Seating capacity: 1,630 including the orchestra section termed "patio", four complete tiers of boxes termed "palcos" and the balconies) Plaza de Oriente, s/n (w/o number) - Metro stop: Opera

Teatro Real (Royal Theater)
Photo: May,1999

The Teatro Real (Royal Theater) faces west toward neighboring Plaza de Oriente (East Park) and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) about 150 yards away. The original theater at this site opened in 1738. However, by 1818 it had fallen to such a ruinous condition that it was demolished to allow the construction of a new one. Designed by Architect Antonio López Aguado (who died in 1831), the construction of this new theater progressed only haltingly until Queen Isabel II decided that it was taking too long and ordered its rapid completion. Teatro Real opened on November 19, 1850 presenting Donizetti's La Favorita to celebrate the queen's 20th birthday. Ah, the impatience of youth!

Perhaps the architect's mother's last name (Aguado) was prophetic because the feminine form of this word (aguada) means water hole or source of water, and it turned out that the opera stands on an underground lake! This was one of the big reasons that construction had progressed so slowly.

After the start of the Spanish Civil War, no more operas were presented here until late 1997 when it was reopened after an expenditure of the equivalent of 150 million US dollars to rehabilitate the building. I can attest to its elegant interior today because I saw the Spanish opera Las Golondrinas (The Swallows) there in May, 1999. I would go back again given the chance.

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