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Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain, photographed at night with the city in the background

Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts (Valencian: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Spanish: Palacio de las Artes Reina Sofía) is an opera house and cultural centre in Valencia, Spain. The theatre opened on 8 October 2005. The first opera presented, Beethoven's Fidelio, was premiered on 25 October 2006.


The company

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, rear elevation
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, side elevation

Administration of the company is under the leadership of Helga Schmidt, formerly from London's Royal Opera House from 1973 to 1981. Schmidt has attracted some major artists to be involved with the Palau. Among them is Zubin Mehta, who leads an annual music and opera festival, the Festival del Mediterraneo, which began in 2007; Lorin Maazel, who became music director; and Plácido Domingo, who brought his Operalia competition to the Palau in October 2007,[1] and performs there regularly (Cyrano de Bergerac in 2007, Iphigénie en Tauride in 2008, Die Walküre in 2009).

The resident orchestra at the Queen Sophia Palace of the Arts is the Valencian Community Orchestra. The theatre's first season was dated, 2006-2007. During the first and second seasons the theatre staged seven or eight operas per season, as well as an operetta, a [zarzuela]], and vocal recitals. During the 2008-2009 season theatre staged seven operas and one zarzuela, in performances that mainly conducted by Lorin Maazel. Soloists included Plácido Domingo, Christopher Ventris, Vittorio Grigolo, Maria Guleghina, and Cristina Gallardo-Domâs. The 2008-2009 Festival del Mediterrani included the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle conducted by Zubin Mehta, again with Plácido Domingo.

The Queen Sophia company promotes symphonic concerts, opera galas, and vocal recitals.[2] The company also hosts the Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo, an advanced training program of international draw for young opera artists, named in honor of Plácido Domingo.[3]

The building

Queen Sophia Palace of the Arts is the final structure built of a grand City of Arts and Sciences concept designed by the Valencia-born and internationally known architect, Santiago Calatrava, which began in 1995 and it was opened on 8 October 2005.

Under the expansive curved-roof structure, 230 metres in length, the building rises fourteen stories above grade and includes three stories below ground. Its height is 75 metres.[4] The 40,000 sq. metre building contains four auditoriums:

  • The Sala Principal (Main Hall), which seats 1,700 people and functions primarily for opera, but it may be converted for dance and other performing arts. The Hall has four tiers of seating, a stage equipped with all major facilities, and the third largest orchestra pit in the world, being capable of housing 120 musicians.

The building suffered a number of unfortunate incidents after its opening which hampered initial productions. The first of these was the collapse of the main stage platform while it was bearing the complete set of Jonathan Miller's production of Don Giovanni in December 2006. This forced the Palau to cancel the last performance of La Bohème, all of La Belle et la Bête, and meant that the management had to reschedule the remainder of the inaugural opera season. In November 2007, the entire cultural complex suffered a series of floods. The recently re-built stage platform was paralised once again because almost two metres of water entered the lower floors of the building and wrecked the electronics and the motors of the complex stage equipment, forcing the management to re-schedule the season again, delaying the premiere of Carmen and canceling the opera, 1984. [4]

  • The Auditorio is located above the Main Hall. It seats 1,500 people and its facilities include sound and video systems capable of projecting displays of events taking place in venues below it. Officially given to the managing trust during the 2007–2008 season, it is a spectacular venue with multiple uses, from classical music concerts to political rallies.
  • Aula Magistral is capable of seating 400 people and is used for chamber music performances and conferences.
  • Martí i Soler Theatre was constructed below the base of the Palau's plume [4] and seats 400 people. It shall be used for theatre productions and as a training centre for the main auditoria. Unfortunately, this hall suffered vast damage during the 2007 flooding and its opening was delayed. No equipment had been installed before the flooding, however, so the estimated cost for reconstruction was much lower than it would have been shortly thereafter.


  1. ^ George Hall, "Revival House", Opera News, May 2006, pp 40–42
  2. ^ 2009–10 season on the company's website
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Adrian Mourby, "Is it a bird? Is it a plane?", Opera Now, January/February 2007 pp.32–33

External links

Coordinates: 39°27′28″N 0°21′20″W / 39.45778°N 0.35556°W / 39.45778; -0.35556



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