Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie

Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (13)

The Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, which is also now called the National Opera, got its name because it was built in 1817 on the site that had been occupied by the former Royal Mint, where money was made for the Duchy of Brabant. 

Interestingly, this theatre is also important in Belgian history because during a performance of the work “The Dumb Girl of Portici” in 1830, the leading tenor sang the following verses: “Sacred love of the homeland, give us boldness and valour. I owe my life to my country, it will be free in return”. These words seem to have stirred up the audience, who, carried away by patriotic fervour, left the theatre and started a revolt that was to end in the September Uprising, which led the country to independence. 

Later, in 1855, the building fell victim to a fire, and thus the original Neoclassical construction currently only preserves the facade, with eight ionic columns, and the pediment, which is decorated with the work “The Harmony of Human Passions”. Moreover, in the nineteen-eighties, large-scale renovation work was undertaken to adapt the building to safety regulations and to improve technical features, which involved raising the ceiling of the auditorium some four metres. All these modifications, however, have affected neither the luxurious Louis XIV-style ornamentation nor the beautiful central dome, which is decorated with an allegory of Belgium as a protector of the arts. 

Pay attention, also, to the impressive foyer staircase, the work of Joseph Poelaert, and the magnificent floor and ceiling decoration, by two contemporary American artists: Sol LeWitt and Sam Francis.  

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