Liceu opera hall considering opening new site along Barcelona's seafront

La Rambla's iconic opera hall weighs up using location formerly used by Imax Port Vell 3D cinema

The Liceu theater in Barcelona (by ACN)
The Liceu theater in Barcelona (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 19, 2022 01:05 PM

The Liceu opera hall might open a second site, 'Liceu Mar', devoted to contemporary and experimental compositions along Barcelona's seafront. 

The institution, which has been on the city's La Rambla boulevard since its inauguration in 1847, is weighing up whether to make use of the location that housed the Imax Port Vell, a 3D cinema, from 1995 to 2014, following talks with the council and the Port of Barcelona, as was first reported by Ara newspaper and confirmed by the Catalan News Agency. This building is on the Moll d'Espanya quay, close to the Aquarium and the Maremagnum mall, in the Port Vell harbor

If these plans move forward and are successful, the headquarters of Liceu's Center for New Opera, which promotes new composition, dramaturgy, and stage direction, among others, could be located there, as could what is known as 'El Petit Liceu' (the Little Liceu) performances for younger audiences. 

The Liceu has also stated that the site could host regular dance performances throughout the year and help the opera hall to continue to work with a network of agents and artists from Barcelona and beyond. 

2021-2022 is Liceu's 175th season and last year opera hall administrators expressed an interest in cooperating with the Hermitage museum to launch a new cultural hub on the city's seafront. 

The council has thus far rejected all plans involving the Russian institution, but in May 2021 it opened the door to rethinking its stance if it also included Liceu participation.

Deputy mayor Janet Sanz said at the time that the projected venue shared between both cultural entities required a larger space than the one in the plans, in the Nova Bocana area, at the port's mouth.   

There are a number of reasons why these plans may be more successful than those involving Hermitage: the Port of Barcelona recovered its license after Teatromax, the company behind the 3D cinema, left the premises over 5 years earlier, and it could be in the Port's best interest to ensure the site's upkeep as poor its poor conditions led to a fire in January 2020. 

In addition to this, the particular license is for commercial, cultural, and recreational activities which could help to revitalize the area — a number of stores in Maremagnum have closed while the Cinesa movie theater shut its doors a year after Imax did  and the building is twice as large as that in the Hermitage proposal. 

It can also be accessed from La Rambla and passeig de Colom boulevards, rather than avinguda Joan de Borbó, which cannot handle any more traffic