Since it opened in 1847, two fires, a bombing and financial crisis have failed to quash the spirit and splendour of the Liceu, one of the most prestigious venues in the world and a huge success with the public. A restrained façade opens into an elegant 2,292-seat auditorium of red plush, gold leaf and ornate carvings. The latest mod cons include seat-back subtitles in various languages that complement the Catalan surtitles above the stage. Under the stewardship of artistic director Joan Matabosch and musical director Sebastian Weigle, the Liceu has consolidated its programming policy, mixing co-productions with leading international opera houses with its own in-house productions. Classical, full-length opera is the staple, but small-format opera and contemporary classics also feature.
A large basement bar hosts pre-performance talks and recitals, as well as children's shows and other musical events. The Espai Liceu is a 50-seat auditorium with a regular programme of screenings of past operas, while the swish six-floor Conservatori (C/ Nou de la Rambla 82-88, 93 304 11 13, www.conservatori-liceu.es), which is part of the Liceu, lends its 400-seater basement auditorium to classical and contemporary concerts, small-scale operas and jazz.