Sunday, December 13, 2009

Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie

THIS THEATRE was first built in 1817 on the site of a 15th-century mint (Hôtel des Monnaies) but, following a fire in 1855, only the front and pediment of the original Neo-Classical building remain. After the fire, the theatre was redesigned by the architect, Joseph Poelaert, also responsible for the imposing Palais de Justice.

The original theatre was to make its historical mark before its destruction, however, when on 25 August, 1830, a performance of La Muette de Portici (The Mute Girl) began a national rebellion. As the tenor began to sing the nationalist Amour Sacré de la Patrie (Sacred love of the homeland), his words incited an already discontented city, fired by the libertarianism of the revolutions taking place in France, into revolt. Members of the audience ran out into the street in a rampage that developed into the September Uprising.

The theatre today remains the centre of Belgian performing arts; major renovations took place during the 1980s. The auditorium was raised 4 m (13 ft) to accommodate the elaborate stage designs, but the luxurious Louis XIV-style decor was carefully retained and blended with the new additions. The central dome is decorated with an allegory of Belgian arts.