On 25 October 2006, Zubin Mehta raised his hands and all of us held our breath. He conducted Leonore Overture No. 3 in the inaugural season and made us all believe that something special was just starting. In fact, it was a high-level beginning. Waltraud Meier, Peter Seifert and Matti Salminen sang an unforgettable Fidelio. After 10 years and many ups and downs, this opera house keeps offering seductive performances and attracting hundreds of visitors every single time its curtain rises.
At 75 meters high, and encompassing 40,000 square meters, this is arguably the most prominent building in architect Santiago Calatrava’s City of the Arts & Sciences complex, making it one of the most famous Valencia sights. The building itself has 4 venues: the Main Hall (1470 people), Auditiorium (1420 people), Master classroom (used for chamber music and conferences – 400 people) and the Martí i Soler Theater (380 people).
If you want to learn more about it, our team of local experts at Sea Saffron know all the secrets of this fascinating building. In one of our Valencia City Tours, we explore the modern complex from ground level, and then get to experience a view like no other, accompanied by incredible hand-prepared tapas, wine and great conversation. Only from our private terrace can you see Les Arts Valencia from this angle, and an incredible panoramic sunset view of the entire city: the perfect spot for taking your Valencia photos.
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Stars of the Show
Plácido Domingo, esteemed tenor and conductor, has sung in several operas and has a magnificent stage presence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has also conducted Tosca, Manon Lescaut and Le Cid. In fact, since its creation, he has appeared every season. Finally, he has promoted a young singers’ training program (Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo) which has already been running for over 10 consecutive years. This program is based on the Teatre Martín i Soler and has provided a wealth of opportunity for highly promising voices.
Two conductors are of particular note: Loriz Maazel (who designed the Valencian Community Orchestra) and Zubin Mehta (who promoted the Festival del Mediterrani). However, aside from these conductors, there have also been memorable appearances from Riccardo Chailly, Daniel Barenboim, Jordi Bernàcer and Ramón Tebar. Highly acclaimed international singers, including Waltraud Meier, Maria Guleghina, Violeta Urmana, Sonia Ganassi, Siegfried Jerusalem, Daniela Barcellona or Mariella Devia, have shared a stage with Valencian singers such as Ana María Sánchez, Isabel Rey, María José Martos, Carmen Avivar, Javier Agulló and Silvia Vázquez.
The choir itself is highly reputed as one of the most uniform and reliable. Established in 1987, it has been directed by Francesc Perales since 1988. As part of the Instituto Valenciano de la Música, they have had one success after another. It has participated in many relevant festivals, at the close of the Barcelona Olympic Games, at UNESCO in Paris, at the World Exhibition in Lisbon, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the cathedral of St Patrick in New York.
Services & Facilities
Although the Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo is the most relevant didactic activity, the Palau de les Arts Valencia has put together a full programme of activities aimed at students and families. A set of activities have been developed as educational tools for primary, secondary schools, specialized education centers and universities.
Additionally, there is a well-known restaurant in Les Arts Valencia, perfect for enjoying afternoon drinks during a hot Valencian summer on your holidays to valencia, and the chef, Pablo Ministro, is regailed as one of Valencia’s most prominent chefs.
Other services include guided tours, renting spaces, cloakroom service, medical care (available on performance days), performance programmes, special services for patrons of limited mobility, cafeteria and parking.
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Les Arts Valencia unites several opera-lovers, both international and national. Due to its rise in popularity as a cruise destination in recent years, many audience members hail from Valencia cruise port, attracting a hodgepodge of international opera fans, as well as local enthusiasts and an extensive expat community. The City of Arts and Sciences, and especially Les Arts Valencia, attracts a myriad of tourists annually, providing the perfect excuse for tourists to enjoy both the incredible music, and one of the city’s most key architectural feats.
This opera house has always been determined to create opportunities for cooperation between several art forms.
Example of these impressive artistic collaborations in Les Arts Valencia include Fura del Baus’ revision of both Wagner’s ‘Der Ring des Nibelunguen’, an epic cycle of four musical dramas, and Lemaire’s Samson et Dalila. More recently, the famous La Traviata was adapted by famous Italian designer, Valentino. All of these prove the versatility of the talented performers at Les Arts Valencia and its dedication to engaging and delighting its audiences.
Whilst opinions about opera are highly subjective, Mehta’s conduction of ‘Leonore Overture no.3’, Domingo’s ‘Simon Boccanegra’, Gregory Kunde’s ‘Othello’ and Ana María Sánchez’s ‘La Bruja’ have been undeniable hits. The 2010 production of Carmen was particularly note-worthy due to its all-star cast, including Elina Garança as Carmen and Marina Rebeka as Micaela, but also starring Marcelo Alvarez, Alexander Vinogradov, Silvia Vázquez and Carlos Saura.
The venue has not been without its dramas, both on-stage and off-stage(!), with many instances of productions exceeding their budgets, structural damage in December 2006, and a flood of 2007 causing the elimination of 200 seats. Calatrava’s iconic mosaic design, whilst aesthetically pleasing, did not endure the weather meaning that the layer of ceramic mosaic tiles has had to be changed over the years.
The Future of Les Arts Valencia
Marina Rebeka has recently been responsible for another special moment at Les Arts as Violetta Valéry. We enjoyed a great Traviata by Tébar in a version far better than the one conducted by Lorin Maazel in 2010. Rebeka is not only an impressive soprano, but holds herself well in the mezzo-soprano and alto portions of the score. Her voice lends itself perfectly to the highly emotive music, providing a vocally flawless performance.
Davide Livermore, the present general manager-artistic director of Les Arts Valencia, has decided to promote the value of theater both in the city of Valencia and throughout the surrounding regions. Whilst planning to maintain the presence of international artists, he also aims to enhance the development of the established ensembles at Les Arts such as the Ballet de la Generalitat, the Cor de la Generalitat and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, as well as the members of the Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo. Reasonable financial policies from the Ministry of Culture would definitely help.
“Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore”
(I have lived for art, I have lived for love)
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