Brussels Opera House La Monnaie / De Munt

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The Brussels Opera with the classicist porch from 1819

The Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie or La Monnaie for short (in French ) or De Koninklijke Muntschouwburg , or De Munt for short (in Dutch ; German about "Königliches Theater an der Münze"), is the royal Brussels Opera House .


The first theater building on this site was erected around 1700 on the site of a previous coin which, like large parts of Brussels, fell victim to the French bombardment . In the 18th century, the Théâtre de la Monnaie had the reputation of being one of the most beautiful theaters in Europe. Eighty years later, several plans were drawn up to expand and renovate the opera house. But it wasn't until 1818 that the city of Brussels had a completely new theater built behind the old building. Today's opera house dates from 1855/56, which replaced the previous building inaugurated in 1819, which fell victim to a theater fire in January 1855. An extensive renovation and modernization took place in 1985 according to plans by the Belgian architect Charles Vandenhove Instead, the old original colors now come into their own again, even if the new overall picture occasionally gave rise to controversial opinions.

Today, the Monnaie Theater is one of the most renowned opera houses in Europe, especially since Maurice Béjart caused a sensation in 1960 with the Ballet du XX e siècle , the Ballet of Monnaie, which he founded and Gerard Mortier was the general director from 1982 to 1992. The current director is Peter de Caluwe , who took over from Bernard Foccroulle in August 2007 . Caluwe is a former dramaturge at Monnaie and former opera director of the National Opera in Amsterdam. Alain Altinoglu has been the musical director of the Monnaie since 2015 , after he conducted there for the first time in 2011.


The first facade of the Monnaie Theater in the 18th century

After the destruction of Brussels by the troops of Louis XIV in 1695, the Theater sur la Monnoye was built by the Venetian architects Paolo and Pietro Bezzi on the ruins of the old mint . Maximilian II. Emanuel of Bavaria, governor-general of the Spanish Netherlands , had commissioned his banker Gio Paolo Bombarda to build a new public opera house in the heart of the city. The solemn inauguration took place in the course of 1700, the first mention of a performance on November 19, 1700 related to the opera Atys , which was given on the seventeenth anniversary of the crown to Philip V of Spain in the presence of the governor. During the first twenty-five years after its construction, operas by Jean-Baptiste Lully based on libretti by Philippe Quinault (1635–1688) were primarily performed.

When Maria Elisabeth of Austria - a daughter of the "composing emperor" Leopold I  - became governor in 1724 , mainly Venetian operas were performed. Between 1730 and 1745, the theater management changed frequently, sometimes every few months. Only when Karl Alexander von Lothringen , brother-in-law of Empress Maria Theresa , became governor of the Austrian Netherlands in 1744 , did the house regain its good reputation, and it was often referred to as the best opera after Paris at this time. After 1765 the Comédie-Française was emulated , the following fifteen years were marked by the opera buffa , much to the delight of the audience . From 1772 Ignaz Vitzthumb directed the fortunes of the opera and gave it new impetus by inviting the Paris troupe, which performed both their works and those that were created exclusively for the Monnaie in Brussels.

After the French takeover in 1795, the Monnaie was only a provincial theater. Completely run down, the building was torn down and replaced by a new house built according to plans by the French architect Louis Damesme (1757–1822). The opening ceremony was on May 25, 1819 with the opera La caravane du Caire by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry .

Belgian history was written in the Monnaie when, on August 25, 1830, on the occasion of the 59th birthday of King Wilhelm I of the Netherlands, the opera La muette de Portici was performed by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber . Already fueled by the duet “Amour sacré de la patrie” (“Holy love for the fatherland”), after the aria of Masaniello, who sang with an ax in his hand in the third act: Run for revenge! The guns, the fire! May our vigilance put an end to our suffering! the audience out of control. It rose and shouted “Aux poores! Aux poores! ”(“ To arms! ”). This is considered to be the trigger for the Belgian Revolution , which led to the country's independence from the Netherlands.

Today's interior of the Monnaie, 2017

On January 21, 1855, the theater was destroyed by fire. The neo-classical portico built by the sculptor Eugène Simonis (1810–1882) in 1853 has been preserved. The reconstruction of the hall (with 1150 seats) based on the French model and the magnificent large foyer (250 seats) was under the direction of the Brussels architect Joseph Poelaert . The inauguration was celebrated on March 24, 1856 with a performance of the Opéra-comique Jaguarita l'Indienne by Jacques Fromental Halévy . The repertoire of the Monnaie - like that of the Parisian opera houses - was now dominated by composers of the French opera such as Halévy, Auber, François-Adrien Boieldieu and Giacomo Meyerbeer and by works by Italian composers such as Gioachino Rossini , Gaetano Donizetti , Vincenzo Bellini and Giuseppe Verdi . At the end of the 19th century, the Monnaie also became a center of Wagnérisme after the performance of Richard Wagner's works in Paris encountered major problems. On December 19, 1881, Jules Massenet's Hérodiade was premiered at the Monnaie.

Web links

Commons : De Munt / La Monnaie  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 50 ° 50 ′ 59 ″  N , 4 ° 21 ′ 14 ″  E