A Day At The Barcelona Opera (Gran Teatre del Liceu)

I am still processing this magical day. Somehow, I got unbelievable seats to a performance of “El Conte De Nadal De Charles Dickens” (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens) at the iconic Gran Theatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Honestly, I thought we would be most impressed with the grand theatre’s aesthetics and the incredible seats, but oh my, were we surprised.

The performance featured a sand artist I can only describe as genius, a talented youth choir, two outstanding soloists, and a sublime orchestra. The acoustics were perfect, and the performance was flawless. 

As we sat in these seats that we will probably never be able to afford at an opera performance overlooking a sold-out European crowd of over 2,000 that was discerning and cosmopolitan, the emotions that flooded my being are difficult to describe. 

First, it confirmed our move to this country and city filled with history and the arts. The performance was beautiful and profoundly moving in the ancient Catalan language. Thankfully, there were translations in Spanish and English. 

Second, I can’t describe the emotion that flooded my being as the conductor came to the podium after the concertmaster had tuned the orchestra. Scenes from the myriad Christmas choral and orchestral performances I have directed over a thirty-year career seemed to flood my mind—like a movie in slow motion and fast forward simultaneously. 

Tears flooded my eyes, and repeated verklempts choked my throat, so much so that Gina looked back at me concerned and then, knowing I was okay, gripped my hand with a firm, loving and empathic clapse. She intuitively realized this was a moment like few others in the past two decades since I “retired” from my music career. 

Third, the aesthetics of this magnificent venue built solely for music overwhelmed me. To be at this performance was the culmination of lifelong dreams to experience concerts like this with a European sensibility that comes only from centuries of artistic history. Caruso, Callas, Sutherland, and many more opera icons have graced this stage. Performances have been ongoing since 1847. 

Fourth, ironically, the history of the Liceu Theatre describes a trait that has long been attributed to yours truly. If you have read my memoir, you will understand. The text reads, “over two thousand people breathe as one in the embrace of the Liceu’s golden horseshoe as the conductor’s baton falls and the curtain rises. The elegant curve of that horseshoe is uninterrupted…” 

After four encores that were beautifully planned (just in case) that portrayed a very earthy and sensual version of the birth of Jesus—let’s say these performances would never happen in prudish America, especially today, my hands were aching from applauding and my throat raw from yelling “bravissimo!” I had no idea that “Fum, Fum, Fum” was originally a Catalan Christmas song.

We stumbled outside onto the iconic Ramblas and strolled arm in arm through the old town (Cuitat Vella), posed Gina in front of a gigantic live Christmas tree, and ended up at a restaurant that had been highly recommended. We sat at our reserved table and began to discuss the experience while savoring exquisite fresh seafood from the Mediterranean and an expansive organic wine list.  

What a delightfully perfect yet exhaustively emotional day. Oh my, one of my initial comments to Gina was, why did we wait so long to move to this magical land that is so much more compatible with who we are than America can ever hope to be? We are so grateful. It will take days, if not months, for me to fully unpack the emotions and joy of this day. I’m so thankful.

6 responses to “A Day At The Barcelona Opera (Gran Teatre del Liceu)”

  1. Debbie Avatar

    I’m so happy for you both. Life is too short to have regrets. Enjoy your dream life. Thanks for sharing.

    Merry Christmas to you both.


    1. Randy Avatar

      Thanks so much, Debbie! We are loving Barcelona and feel so grateful! It is like a dream!


  2. Michael Harrison Avatar
    Michael Harrison

    Just wow. Thank you. Love your writing and how it brings to life emotions, even the breath in and out of my lungs. So glad you guys have found a home that will bring joy to you. I long for more. Watching. Reading. Hoping. Merry Christmas, friends.

    1. Randy Avatar

      Thanks so much, Michael. It truly is a dream cone true!

  3. Sharon Avatar

    So happy for you Randy. What a beautiful read about your beautiful evening. Glad everything is falling into place as y’all get settled and what a way to start.

    1. Randy Avatar

      Thanks so much Sharon. It is crazy and wonderful!!