The theatre Liceu (Gran Teatre del Liceu) is the most famous opera theatre in Barcelona with the infamously bad luck. It was founded in 1847 as a private function theatre and from that year one frequently fell victim to fires, arson, bombings of anarchists and, consequently, numerous renovations and reconstructions. The first of many reconstructions took place in 1861 after a big fire, which in some sense did the Liceu good, since after the renovation the theatre became the grandest opera house in Spain. It was always positioned as an exclusively politics-free haven of intelligentsia and bourgeoisie вЂ“ to this day there is no royal box in Liceu.
In 1893, during the production of вЂњWilhelm TellвЂќ there was a blast вЂ“ two bombs thrown by an anarchist served as revenge for a recent execution of this anarchist's comrade and resulted in death of 20 people. The third fire was not an arson, but rather a negligent oversight of a worker whose blunder almost destroyed the theatre in its entirety in 1994. After that the Liceu closed its doors for five years. In 1999 it quite literally rose like a phoenix from the ashes, more sumptuous and grandiose than ever. It can seat almost 2300 guests simultaneously, which makes it one of the biggest opera houses in the world.
Every morning at 10 am there are paid walking tours of the Liceu, during which visitors have a chance to peek into exclusive chambers of the Cercle del Liceu вЂ“ a private club of opera members. The rooms are staggering. Decorated with rich wood, mosaics, colourfully tiled floors and painted ceilings, they also bring a Modernist touch to the interior, especially in the beautiful Games room adorned with series of paintings by Ramon Casas. Throughout the 160-year history of this club, only men could become its members, until this rule was challenged in court by a famous opera singer Montserrat CaballГ©. She debuted on the Liceu stage in 1962, subsequently became the first woman to join the club and went on to be recognized as Spain's greatest female soprano.