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A public meeting place in the heart of the opera
BY Jordi Casanovas

The Liceu management is still working on the precise use of the large space located below the main foyer, which it is hoped will be converted into a meeting place permanently open to opera lovers and to the entire public. This space will have a surface area of about a thousand square metres to which access will be gained from the corner of La Rambla and Carrer Uniķ. Here, during the first few months of 2000, it is planned to install all the complementary services that will constitute the basis of the theatre’s communication policy and the key to the Liceu’s programme to attract the public.

The most important services will be the Liceu Café, the museum (one part of which will be fixed and the other modifiable, depending on the works programmed), the media centre with the theatre’s audio-visual resources and a shop specialising in opera records and publications, which it is hoped will become an essential point of reference for music-lovers. In the words of Josep Tardā, marketing director of the Liceu: "We hope that this will be a very attractive meeting place, which will attract everyone, not just opera fans, to come in and learn about the opera world."

This space, which will be connected with the great foyer, will be located under the main floor of the auditorium and will be the venue for alternative performances such as late concerts, recitals and educational activities. Furthermore, commencing with the next season, conferences will be given introducing the programmed works.

The general director of the opera house, Josep Caminal, considers that in order to be successful in attracting a loyal public, the problem of night public transport must be resolved and the selection of restaurants should be defined, "a matter which", according to him, "no theatre has fully resolved". "For the present, various minimum services have been provided for: a buffet service in the foyer area at the end of performances, trays of savoury snacks in the entr’actes, a glass of cava in the Mirrors Salon, refreshments and sandwiches in the Liceu Café and in the bars under the public area in the foyer and in the fourth floor.

Josep Caminal assures that the new spaces open to the public are sufficiently attractive for the users of the boxes to abandon the former custom of staying there during the entr’actes. "In this respect, the new Liceu is completely unlike the old Liceu", says the general director. "Gone is the attraction of staying in the box area because, without any doubt, everybody will want to stroll through the foyer, the museum or the Mirrors Salon." In any event, even the nostalgic will not have many alternatives, since one part of the boxes has been done away with and the other has been cut down considerably.