"Constellations" by Jaume Plensa opens the doors of the Liceu

"Constellations" by Jaume Plensa opens the doors of the Liceu
bonart barcelona - 08/09/22

The Liceu inaugurates the doors of the three arcades of the entrance as part of its 175th anniversary. The work commissioned to Jaume Plensa is called Constellations and is a new architectural and at the same time artistic element that changes forever the appearance of the facade.

Plensa spoke of his creation as "three clouds of letters", and remarked on the idea that the doors "neither open nor close", but instead "levitate in a magical floatation between the three arches of the facade, with the firm will to respect the smallest detail of the building's architecture."

The artist has also said that Constellations, with its multitude of letters from different alphabets "want to celebrate the great diversity of the world and the richness of the dialogue between its identities". They are, he concluded, "an exaltation of life and a bridge with Barcelona's Rambla and all its pedestrians".

A "gift" to the city

The president of the Liceu Board of Trustees, Salvador Alemany, has thanked Plensa for his "love" for the Liceu, "Barcelona and Catalonia", while remembering that the sculptor has carried out this commission for the theater for free. For Alemany, the premiere of a work by Plensa "in the middle of the Rambla" is a factor that increases "the prestige of the Liceu" and at the same time "the pleasure of all those who walk along the Rambla".

The cost of the 'Constellations' project amounts to 750,000 euros, 50% of which is contributed by the construction company ACS, 35% comes from the European Feder funds, and 15% is financed by the theater itself.

The Minister of Culture, Natàlia Garriga, seconded the thanks for "the generous gift" made by Plensa, and highlighted the fact that the work is accessible to all citizens, and that it is part of the landscape residents' and visitors' daily newspaper. "Having art available to everyone means that citizens can get to know it and appreciate it," Garriga replied.

After the artist and institutional parliaments - behind closed doors -, the presentation and inauguration of the work has been moved to the street. The doors have been opened for the first time, accompanied by the voices of the Liceu Choir in the street, right in front of the facade.

The singers sang the Wagnerian piece 'Freudig begrüßen wir die edle Halle' (Tannhäuser, act II) as the new doors were opened for the first time, led by the director of the Choir, Pablo Assante, and accompanied on the piano by David-Huy Nguyen - Phung. A piece from the second act of 'Tannhäuser' that celebrates the entrance of the guests and which is meant to be a symbolic and metaphorical gesture of doors that invite the public to enter and enjoy the universal language that is music, they explained from the theater .

This is how the public of the Liceu was welcomed for the first time. An audience that, in this case, did not go to see any lyrical show, but the Gala Catalunya Aixeca el Teló, organized by ADETCA, to kick off the theatrical season in the Catalan territory.

A facade in transformation

In recent years, the Teatre del Liceu has completed the restoration of the original elements that could not be carried out during the 1999 reconstruction. In the summer of 2017, the hall, the staircase and the Hall of Mirrors were restored. In the summer of 2019, the historic facade of Oriol Mestres from 1874 was recovered, the four Wagnerian stained glass windows by Oleguer Junyent from 1904 were restored and in the summer of 2021 the restoration of the entrance canopy was carried out . As a culmination of this rehabilitation process that the Theater has carried out in recent years, the resident artist Jaume Plensa has executed the installation 'Constellations'.

Doors that "invite to enter"

Today the Liceu insisted on the idea that the doors "invite to enter" the Liceu. Plensa had also done this during the presentation of the project, before the summer, when he pointed out precisely that he has never liked the doors, as a concept.

However, the first presentation of 'Constellations' was clouded by the statements of artistic director Víctor García de Gomar, in the sense that this architectural element would also serve to distance from the entrance "difficult situations" that the theater does not want the entrance, in reference to the presence of homeless people sleeping there, prostitution, drugs or sexual assaults. Gomar himself publicly apologized a few days later for these "unfortunate" demonstrations.

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