Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona   Català  |  Castellano 

Presentation of the project


The modern techniques of scanning, digital identification and data search allow us to relate as we had never been able to do before all the varied and complex documentation generated by an opera house.

Thanks to the agreement signed in 2011 between the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona it is possible to open to all the research community, and to the internet users in general, the catalog and the digitized documentary series belonging to the Historical Archive of the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu.

The project includes the cataloging of more than 50.000 documents generated from 1837 to the present. The denser period of the collected documentation ends in 1981, when the theatre management was transferred to the Consortium, competence of the Fundació del Gran Teatre. del Liceu since 1994.Scenography by Maurici Vilomara. Cristóforo Colombo. Act II

It is unusual to preserve for a period of almost 150 years all the documentation generated by an opera house. The case of the Liceu has more singularities. To the complexity of its origins –which gathered since educational projects to the construction of a new theatre– it is added the activity of the private society owner of the site and the theatre, which organized the seasons through renting to impresarios.

The documentation available online is a tool of primary importance to know the complexity and diversity of the aspects involved in an opera house:

- The artistic history of the theatre of the Liceu.
- The technical advances in the performing arts.
- The sheet music collection generated by the former arxive of the theatre.
- The administrative documentation submitted by the various impresarios who directed the theatrical seasons.
- An important part of the social and cultural history of Barcelona, emerged from the most important opera house in contemporary Catalonia, and with the longest trajectory in Spain.

In the cataloging we wanted to mantain the continuity of the documentary series. This results in the organization of the online consultation from the various typologies, and according to the various types of format, that will be completed as the project grows. In the first level, the documentation is classified in the following series:

- Management of the property
- Direction of the theatre
- Technical documentation
- Scenographies
- Photographs
- Sheet music

The continuity of the activity of the theatre –which was mantained even during the period between 1936 and 1939– allows to relate the different materials between them. This goal is considered to be the hallmark of the project: we will not only accede, for example, to an isolated scenography but enable its dialog with all the rest of documents: plans, programs, photographs, collected letters, sheet music or administrative documents.

Also, the functioning of a theatre can not be explained like a closed entity in itself. It is the result of an intense flow of artistic, commercial and technical exchanges. We have enriched, whenever possible, the framework of relations of the materials of the Liceu with the international musical activity of its time.

This project is possible thanks to the involvement of different members of the UAB community: from the Library Service to the research groups in different areas, which give meaning to the interdisciplinarity of the archive itself.

We must be especially grateful for the financial support that is enabling the continuation of the project, which has opened the doors to the history of one of the most emblematic sites of Barcelona.

Francesc Cortès i Mir
Department of Art and Musicology