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A Night at the Opera, Menorca-Style

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Mahón (or Maó as it’s called in Catalan, and which is the name that appears on all local maps and signs) is known for its beaches, its harbour and, strangely enough, for its fine examples of British colonial architecture. However, it is lesser known as this island’s active opera scene.

If you’re an opera lover and a sun lover, Menorca could be the perfect combination for you. If you’re going to be renting one of the many luxurious villas near Mahón, you’re perfectly located for attending one of the city’s splendid performances.

Opera Week is held two times a year, in June and in December. The venue is the city’s magnificent Teatro Principal in the centre of Mahón and easily reached from most villas near Mahón.

The Teatro Principal: Menorca’s Grand Opera House

The oldest opera house in Spain, the Teatro Principal was designed and built in 1829 by Italian architect Giovani Palagi, who lived on Menorca at the time. It was constructed at a time when a new passion for music, especially the Italian masterpieces, was sweeping European and Menorcan society. Menorca’s old opera house (formerly located on the site where the Teatro Principal now stands) was far too small to accommodate new productions which had elaborate stage sets, a large cast and a full orchestra. And so just ten years after being built, it was torn down and replaced by the Teatro Principal.

Aria after Aria

Throughout the year, the Teatro Principal hosts many cultural events – jazz, classical music, plays, poetry recitals, workshops and much more. But for two weeks a year, it devotes itself to its original purpose. During each week, there are at least three performances and often workshops and lectures about the opera being performed. Thanks to the superb acoustics of the horseshoe-shaped auditorium, these performances are a spectacle of sight and sound not to be missed.

One interesting thing about the festival is that most performances are in the bel canto style of singing. Bel canto was extremely popular throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this style, the transition between vocals is smooth with the singer gradually raising and lowering his or her volume while maintaining the same pitch. During the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, this operatic style faded away until, in the 1950, it enjoyed a comeback.

Make a Night of It

Seeing an opera is, without a doubt, an experience of sight, sound and emotion. The sets, the voices, and the entire atmosphere will make your visit truly unforgettable. So why not make it even more special? One of the many advantages of renting villas near Mahón is the fact that you have the freedom to access both city and country. Maybe organise a romantic candlelit dinner for before or after the show. Get the CD or DVD of the performance and relive it in the comfort of your villa’s living room.

To see the current program, go to the theatre’s English site.
About author: Desiree Michels

Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. Personally selecting the finest properties for her clients, Brenda is the go-to person for anyone looking for villas near Mahon or the surrounding area for a relaxing holiday. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.

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