Teatro Real is a major opera house located in Madrid. Today the Teatro Real opera is one of the great theaters of Europe hosting large productions involving leading international figures in opera singing, musical direction, stage direction, and dance. Founded in 1818 and inaugurated on 19 November 1850, it closed in 1925 and reopened in 1966. Beginning in 1988 it underwent major refurbishing and renovation works and finally reopened in 1997 with a capacity of 1,746 seats. The theater offers visitors guided tours in several languages, including the auditorium, stage, workshops, and rehearsal rooms.
Founded by King Ferdinand VII in 1818, and after thirty-two years of planning and construction, a Royal Order on 7 May 1850 decreed the immediate completion of the "Teatro de Oriente" and the building works were finished within five months. The Opera House, located just in front of the Palacio Real, the official residence of the Queen who ordered the construction of the theatre, Isabel II, was finally inaugurated on 19 November 1850, with Donizetti's La Favorite.
The Teatro soon became one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe. For over five decades it hosted the most renowned singers and composers of the time. In the early period, it saw famous opera singers such as Alboni, Frezzolini, Marietta Gazzaniga, Rosina Penco, Giulia Grisi, Giorgio Ronconi, Italo Gardoni, Mario de Candia and Antonio Selva among many others. In 1863, Giuseppe Verdi visited the theatre for the Spanish premiere of his La Forza del Destino. At its peak, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Teatro hosted world renowned artists such as Adela Borghi, Marie Sasse, Adelina Patti, Christina Nilsson, Luisa Tetrazzini, Mattia Battistini, Julián Gayarre, Angelo Masini, Francesco Tamagno and Enrico Tamberlick. In 1925, the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev performed in the theatre with the presence of Nijinsky and Stravinsky.
From 1867 to 1925 the Teatro Real also housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory. In December of 1925 a Royal Order ordered its activities to be discontinued owing to the damage that the construction of the Metro de Madrid had caused to the building. The government set out to restore it and ordered numerous projects to be drawn out for its renovation, such as that from architect Urdanpilleta Flórez, who proposed a monumental remodeling of the building. However, financial difficulties prevented the completion of these projects and led to a simple restoration, sponsored by the Juan March Institute, and carried out first by the architect Manuel Gonzalez Valcárcel, and later by architects Miguel Verdú Belmonte and Francisco Rodriguez Partearroyo.
The theatre reopened in 1966 as a concert hall as well as the main concert venue for the Spanish National Orchestra and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra. The reopening was celebrated with a concert of the Spanish National Orchestra conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and the Orfeón Donostiarra. In 1969, the 14th Eurovision Song Contest was held at the theatre, featuring an onstage metal sculpture created by surrealist Spanish artist Salvador Dalí.