This month's must-see art
These are the art exhibitions you won't want to miss in Madrid's museums and galleries
Get your fix of art and culture in Madrid without spending a céntimo
Madrid's best museums
The Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen are the heavyweights among the best museums in town
Don't miss your chance to feast your eyes on world-famous paintings you can only see in Madrid
Musicals in Madrid
Catchy songs, stylish cabarets, and hot choreography... Madrid loves musicals as much as we do
Where to hear live classical music
This impressive concert hall has capacity in its main auditorium for over 2,000, and a smaller chamber hall, La Sala de Cámara, which seats 700 people. As well as the OCNE, the Auditorio hosts the Comunidad de Madrid's ORCAM orchestra and the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España (worth checking out for their youth and enthusiasm – in contrast to the OCNE). But the best concerts are those by invited international orchestras – which are, happily enough, something the Spanish state likes to invest its music budget in. The best seasons are the Grandes Intérpretes, the Liceo de Cámara de la Fundación Caja Madrid, Ibermúsica, Ciclo de Cámara y Polifonía and the contemporary Música de Hoy programme. Look out too for organ recitals. One-off attendees will find themselves joining an ageing audience, the majority of them being serious season-ticket holders, who tend to be particularly expressive. Many make their feelings known when pleased with the odd exultant cheer of 'bravo', but more save themselves for when they want to voice their disapproval (booings and abuse have been hurled in reaction to particularly offensive contemporary compositions, especially when the composer is present). Tickets for the Auditorio usually go on sale about a fortnight before the performance, and can be hard to get hold of. They can be acquired at the box offices at the Centro Dramático Nacional (Teatro María Guerrero and the Teatro Valle-Inclán), at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and at the headquarters of the
Shaped like a compressed oval, the interior of the city's opera house is breathtakingly ornate compared with its sombre façade, and one of the most technologically advanced in Europe. Productions are impressive, with complicated revolving sets and attention to detail in costume and props, and range in style from the traditional lyrical repertoire to the latest avant-garde trends. Projection screens at either side of the stage show the full-stage action, though this doesn't quite compensate for the lack of vision at the far ends of the top galleries (the 'tribunas' and part of the 'anfiteatro'). There is also a screen above the stage showing Spanish surtitles for non-Spanish operas. The acoustics are so good that sound quality is practically the same everywhere in the hall. There are daily guided visits that tell you all about the building's structure, the decoration of public spaces and how an opera house works (you'll be able to explore everything from the main dressing room to the auditoriums). If you're a professional or student, or simply interested in the technical side of things, there are also daily artistic and technical visits that last around an hour and a quarter. Night owls and those interested in finding out what happens after the curtain falls can also take a night tour. Performances usually begin at 7pm and 8pm, or 6pm on Sundays, with ballet and family opera matinées at noon. The date tickets go on sale is announced on the venue website; there is a limit of fo
Located in slightly seedy Antón Martín, the Monumental has more character than most, but is functional rather than beautiful. Its main purpose is to record broadcast concerts by the RTVE Orchestra and Choir – consequently it may not have the glitz of the Teatro Real, but it does have excellent acoustics and high-quality performances. Watch out for free ticket competitions on the venue's social media.
Teatro de la Zarzuela
Accompanying the Teatro's packed zarzuela programme are performances of dance (often by the Compañía Nacional de Danza), music, plays, conferences and special family-orientated shows.
This month and beyond
Punk. Its Traces in Contemporary Art
The rage of the punk era that exploded in the 1970s bucking the system and its nonsense, takes a calmer turn at the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), in an exhibition featuring works by more than 50 Spanish and international artists. The libertarian impulse and often destructive attitude of the punk movement runs through this exhibition with connections to contemporary art, which can also be subject to the same discomfort and dissatisfaction. The show includes photographs, bits of documentaries, singular pieces, video, painting and large installations, plus creations based on noise, cut-out typography, anti-design, and intentional ugliness.
El poder de las canciones
Who doesn't know a song by The Rolling Stones, The Who or Neil Young? Now you can look back on 60 historic moments of 20th-century pop culture via the songs that gave them life. Commissioned by the director of 'Rockdelux' magazine, Santi Carrillo, this exhibition (The Power of Songs) will delight music lovers. Besides being able to hear each composition and read part of the lyrics, you'll also be able to see a series of films.
Not Yet. On the Reinvention of Documentary and the Critique of Modernism, 1968-1989
The Prado is known as always being connected with the canonical in terms of art, and the Reina Sofía for the very latest of the latest. 'The rediscovery of the experience of working photography; the emergence of a new constellation of photographic practices and groups linked to the new social movements; the emergence of self-managed projects for photography in pursuit of different forms of articulation with public policies in expansion; the discourse of the new social movements and the "urban spin" in social struggles.' Sound familiar? No, this isn't about the present day (or is it?), but about reinterpretations of the 1930s and the new documentary movement out of the 1970s. It's the description of the first big event of the Museum of Contemporary Art and we can't help but shudder when we read it. A must (even more so in such a politically charged year).
Most popular theatres
Teatro Compac Gran Vía
In 1944, on Madrid's fashionable Gran Vía, the Cine Gran Vía first opened its doors. It then became a theatre, and one of the first big stages in the city, between 1947 and 1950. Thousands of theatre fans have sat in the audience here, swept away by the dreams before them in this iconic space. It's now dedicated to musicals and large-format shows, and known these days as the Broadway of Madrid.
Even though this grand theatre located in Plaza de Santa Ana was built on the site of a medieval animal pen in 1745, it isn't old-fashioned at all, having a radical and avant-garde billboard in recent years, programmed jointly with Naves del Español, in El Matadero.
Founded in 1880, this small theatre is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Madrid (whose classical atmosphere takes you back to the days of going to an authentic theatre). It's managed to survive various crises (and was even closed for a number of years), and its billboard now includes innovative works, occasional concerts and children’s shows... always with a retro atmosphere that has its downside in that it lacks comforts you'd expect from a modern theatre.
Teatro de la Abadía
Housed inside an abandoned church, the award-winning Abadía dabbles in music and dance as well as theatre. It's a unique space, one of whose strong points is the proximity of the stage to the audience as well as the impressive building itself. It participates in the Festival de Otoño and Madrid en Danza festivals, brings unusual one-offs to the regular programming, and also organises year-round workshops, carries out research and trains its actors.
Teatro Lope de Vega
Teatro Lope de Vega was inaugurated in the mid-20th century with a musical variety show, and it could be said that this beginning marked its fate. Even though it operated as a cinema for a number of years (and remains so in the hearts of thousands of 'madrileños' who saw the films of the era on the screen here), Lope de Vega is the theatre that has led the transformation of the Gran Vía into Madrid's very own Broadway, through its large-scale productions like 'The Lion King'.
Teatro Circo Price
Originally, Teatro Circo Price was located in an old garden in Paseo de Recoletos. Demolished in 1970, it returned as a stable circus in 2007, when the Madrid town hall rescued the spirit and name of the building, which has become a real cultural centre and an avant-garde hub – together with the neighbouring Casa Encendida – in which the advantages are the shape of the stage and being closer to the audience. What can you find here? A bit of everything: circus acts, concerts, improvisation workshops, clowns... And it's open 365 days a year.