Opéra Royal de Wallonie

Opéra Royal de Wallonie at night in Liège
Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège

The Opéra royal de Wallonie, or Opéra royal, is an Opera house located on the Place de l'Opéra, in the very centre of Liège in Belgium. Together with La Monnaie and the Vlaamse Opera, it is one of the three major opera houses in the kingdom. From the beginning, the institution occupied the Théâtre royal in Liège, a building loaned by the city (inaugurated on 4 November 1820).

Its geographical location, in the heart of the Euregio, at the crossroads between Germany, the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and France, attracts a large Belgian and international audience.


In 1816, King William I of the Netherlands graciously transferred the land and materials of the former Dominican convent to the city of Liège, on condition that a theatre be built there.

The first stone was laid on July 1, 1818 by Mademoiselle Mars.[1] Built according to the plan of the architect Auguste Dukers, the theatre in the neoclassical style has a massive parallelepipedic shape. Its main façade is decorated with a marble colonnade[alpha 1] limited by a balustrade and overlooking the arcades on the ground floor.

The Theatre Royal de Liège was inaugurated on 4 November 1820.

Théâtre de Liège in 1827

The city became the owner in 1854. The statue in front of the building represents the Liège composer André Grétry and is the work of the sculptor Guillaume Geefs. The musician's heart was placed in the base of the statue in 1842. In 1861, the architect Julien-Étienne Rémont [fr] profoundly transformed the room and the building, which was several metres long at the back and sides. The new Second Empire style hall could then accommodate more than 1,500 spectators.

The First World War was a difficult period: in August 1914, the building was requisitioned by the German army to serve as a stable and dormitory, and it was not until October 1919 that it reopened. The Exposition internationale de Liège, in 1930, is the occasion for the definitive installation of a vast pediment, sculpted on the façade by Oscar Berchmans [fr] - set of allegorical figures. In the same year, the city proceeded to remove the façades, which lost their white plaster. The building was spared during the Second World War.

It was in 1967 that the troupe of the Opéra royal de Wallonie was created, on the basis of the former opera company of the Théâtre royal de Liège and that of Verviers. It is constituted as a non-profit association, initially comprising the cities of Liège and Verviers. The Ministry of National Education and French Culture of the time was financially involved shortly afterwards. During the communitarisation, the Opéra royal de Wallonie became part of the French Community of Belgium, which compensated for the impecuniosity of the city in 1990, and has since been its main source of funding. A few years later, the City, the Walloon Region and the Province of Liège gradually took over its financing.

The building was classified as a monument by Wallonia by decree of 18 March 1999.


The building after the 2012 renovation.

The building underwent a major renovation from March 2009 to September 2012, both exterior and interior. The historic parts have been restored to their original state (large foyer, main staircase and hall). Its showroom (capacity 1041 seats), Italian-style and its stage machinery make it one of the most modern theatres in the world.[alpha 2]

The building was also expanded. An ultramodern structure has been installed in height in order to increase the height of the stage cage, and is equipped with a so-called multi-purpose room (Raymond Rossius room) that can accommodate smaller shows, rehearsals or symposiums, conferences, workshops. The renovation plans were prepared as a collaboration among three architecture firms, A2RC, Aa Architectes associés and Origin Architecture et Engineering.[2]

From November 2009 until the end of the works, the performances were held at the "Palais Opéra": a tent temporarily erected on the Bavarian Hospital space.[3]

The renovated Opéra Royal de Wallonia is inaugurated on 19 September 2012, with a performance of César Franck's Stradella (1841), staged here for the first time, in a production by Jaco Van Dormael, in the presence of the Belgian heir couple, Philippe and Mathilde.[4]



In 2006, the French Community's subsidy to the Opera was 12,672,000 euros[alpha 3] Of which nearly two thirds are paid in salaries, since it employs more than three hundred people.[alpha 4]

The Opéra royal de Wallonie In 2013.

The capacity of the hall is 1044 seats.

The troupe of the Opéra royal de Wallonie has had

  • 1967-1992: Raymond Rossius (1926-2005)
  • 1992-1996: Paul Danblon (born 1931)
  • 1996-2007: Jean-Louis Grinda (born 1960)
  • 2007- : Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera (born 1948)

as successive directors:

Since 2007, the Director General of the institution has been Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera. He is also the artistic director. He is the one who appointed the current music director, Paolo Arrivabeni.[5]

Over the years, the Opéra royal de Wallonie has acquired a solid reputation. Ruggero Raimondi, Juan Diego Florez, Deborah Voigt, José Cura, José van Dam, all great artists are regularly featured on the program. But the Opera's vocation is also to introduce local and/or emerging artists to the world.

L'Opéra royal de Wallonie is a member of the (Réseau européen pour la sensibilisation à l'opéra et à la danse [fr]) and Opera Europa.

Orchestra and choir of the Opéra royal de WallonieEdit

The orchestra and the choir distinguished themselves in many repertoires. They also perform abroad, such as at the Balbeeck International Festival and the Santander Festival.

Ballet of the Opéra royal de WallonieEdit

Founded at the same time as the opera company, the ballet of the Opéra royal de Wallonie was created in 1967. Essentially interpreting the entertainment in the classical lyrical repertoire, the ballet is gradually moving towards greater autonomy and a neoclassical style]. Drastic budgetary restrictions forced the Board of Directors to dissolve the ballet in 1997.

The ballet has had André Leclair, Gigi Caciuleanu [fr] and Jacques Dombrowski as its members. Among the danseurs étoiles, are Ambra Vallo, nowadays Principal at the Royal Ballet.


Since its creation in 1967, one of the major strengths of the Opéra royal de Wallonie has been to operate as an independent entity. This is why, in the 1970s, the company set up its own set and costume making workshops. The buildings that house the various trades were, at that time, located in various parts of the city.

It is during the 1996/97 season, when the colossal sets and costumes for La traviata were created, that new needs became apparent. If the workshops are to live up to their reputation, a solution to the lack of space and functionality of the existing premises must be found as soon as possible.

Thus, the Opéra royal de Wallonie decided to centralize its production departments in a single site, at Ans, in June 2002. This new architectural complex covers an area of 2660 m² and then groups the workshops into a single place: decoration (carpentry, ironwork, painting and accessories), costumes, (sewing, shoe, costume decoration) and make-up-wig-making

Studio Marcel DésironEdit

Until 2003, the orchestra rehearsed in the basement of the Royal Theatre, an uncomfortable and cramped space.

In 2002, the transfer of the set design workshops to their new installations in Ans freed the buildings from the rue des Tawes in Liège. The former set assembly hall presented an ideal space in terms of volume and asymmetry. (non-parallel walls, multi-paned roof) characteristic interesting from an acoustic point of view.

An acoustic study was commissioned and demonstrated the feasibility of the project. After a rehearsal of the orchestra organised to "test" the hall, the Royal Walloon Opera decided to build a 240 m² rehearsal room, 8 m high. The objective was to carry out the work so that the musicians could rehearse in 2003.

Since the 2003-2004 season, all orchestra rehearsals have been held in this space, which can accommodate nearly 120 musicians. If this place is primarily reserved for music, it can also be transformed into a stage production studio, if necessary.


2013-2014 seasonEdit

  • Verdi's Attila, musical direction: Renato Palumbo, director: Ruggero Raimondi, with Michele Pertusi, Makvala Aspanidze, Giovanni Meoni, Giuseppe Gipali
  • Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, musical direction: Christophe Rousset, director: Alfredo Arias, with Maria Grazia Schiavo, Wesley Rogers, Franz Hawlata, Elizabeth Bailey, Jeff Martin, Markus Merz
  • Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, musical direction: Patrick Davin, director: Arnaud Bernard, with Annick Massis, Aquiles Machado, Marie-Laure Coenjaerts, Patrick Bolleire
  • Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, musical direction: Cyril Englebert, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera[6], with Alexise Yerna, Patricia Fernandez, Sébastien Droy, Lionel Lhote, Sophie Junker
  • Beethoven's Fidelio, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Mario Martone, with Jennifer Wilson, Zoran Todorovich, Franz Hawlata, Cinzia Forte
  • Verdi's Aida, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Ivo Guerra, with Kristin Lewis, Isabelle Kabatu, Massimiliano Pisapia, Rudy Park, Nino Surguladze, Anna-Maria Chiuri
  • Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, musical direction: Aldo Sisillo, director: Fransesco Esposito, with Martine Reyners, Elisa Barbero, Pietro Picone
  • Rossini's La Gazzetta, musical direction: Renato Palumbo, director: Ruggero Raimondi, with Cinzia Forte, Enrico Marabelli, Laurent Kubla, Edgaro Rocha, Julie Bailly

2014-2015 seasonEdit

  • Rossini's La Cenerentola, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Cécile Roussat, Julien Lubek, with Marianna Pizzolato, Bruno De Simone, Dmitry Korchak, Enrico Marabelli, Laurent Kubla, Sarah Defrise, Julie Bailly
  • Massenet's Manon, musical direction: Patrick Davin, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Annick Massis, Alessandro Liberatore, Roger Joakim, Papuna Tchuradze, Pierre Doyen, Sandra Pastrana, Sabine Conzen, Alexise Yern: Jean-Claude Fall, with Patrizia Ciofi, Gregory Kunde, Nicola Alaimo, Bálint Szabó, Luciano Montanaro, Alexise Yerna, Cristina Melis
  • Puccini's Tosca, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, Cyril Englebert, director: Claire Servais, with Barbara Haveman, Isabelle Kabatu, Marc Laho, Calin Bratescu, Ruggero Raimondi, Pierre-Yves Pruvot, Roger Joakim, Laurent Kubla, Giovanni Iovino
  • Nicolaï's The Merry Wives of Windsor, musical direction: Christian Zacharias, director: David Hermann, with Franz Hawlata, Anneke Luyten, Werner Van Mechelen, Sabina Willeit, Laurent Kubla, Davide Giusti, Sophie Junker, Stefan Cifolelli, Patrick Delcour, Sébastien Dutrieux
  • Benatzky's The White Horse Inn, musical direction: Jean-Pierre Haeck, director: Dominique Serron, with Alexise Yerna, François Langlois, Nicolas Bauchau, Natacha Kowalski [fr], David Serraz, Anne-Isabelle Justens, Marc Pistolesi
  • Verdi's Rigoletto , musical direction: Renato Palumbo, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Leo Nucci, Desirée Rancatore, Gianluca Terranova, Luciano Montanaro, Carla Dirlikov, Patrick Delcour, Alexise Yerna
  • Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Yoshi Oida [fr], with Anne-Catherine Gillet, Marc Laho, Lionel Lhote, Roger Joakim
  • Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, musical direction: Bruno Campanella, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Maria Grazia Schiavo, Davide Giusti, Adrian Sampetrean, Laurent Kubla, Julie Bailly

2015-2016 seasonEdit

  • Verdi's Ernani, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Jean-Louis Grinda, with Gustavo Porta, Elaine Alvarez, Orlin Anastassov, Lionel Lhote, Alexise Yerna
  • Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, musical direction: Guy Van Waas, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Lionel Lhote, Jodie Devos , Gustavo De Gennaro, Enrico Marabelli, Laurent Kubla, Alexise Yerna
  • Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, musical direction: Jesús López Cobos, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Annick Massis, Celso Albelo, Ivan Thirion, Roberto Tagliavini, Pietro Picone, Alexise Yerna, Denzil Delaere
  • Mozart's The Magic Flute, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Cécile Roussat, Julien Lubek, with Anne-Catherine Gillet, Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani, Mario Cassi, Burcu Uyar, Gianluca Buratto, Inge Dreisig, Krystian Adam, Anneke Luyten, Sabina Willeit, Beatrix Krisztina Papp, Roger Joakim, Arnaud Rouillon, Papuna Tchuradze
  • Wolf-Ferrari's Il segreto di Susanna / Poulenc's La Voix humaine, Francis Poulenc, musical direction: Patrick Davin, director: Ludovic Lagarde, with Anna Caterina Antonacci, Vittorio Prato, Bruno Danjoux
  • Rossini's La scala di seta, musical direction: Christopher Franklin, director: Damiano Michieletto, with Maria Mudryak, Ioan Hotea, Filippo Fontana, Federico Buttazzo, Laurent Kubla, Julie Bailly
  • Auber's Manon Lescaut, musical direction: Cyril Englebert, director: Paul-Émile Fourny, with Sumi Jo, Wiard Witholt, Enrico Casari, Roger Joakim, Sabine Conzen, Laura Balidemaj, Denzil Delaere, Patrick Delcour
  • Verdi's La traviata, musical direction: Francesco Cilluffo, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Mirela Gradinaru, Maria Teresa Leva, Javier Tomé Fernández, Davide Giusti, Mario Cassi, Ionut Pascu, Alexise Yerna, Papuna Tchuradze, Roger Joakim, Patrick Delcour, Alexei Gorbatchev, Laura Balidemaj
  • Puccini's La Bohème, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Patrizia Ciofi, Ira Bertman, Gianluca Terranova, Marc Laho, Cinzia Forte, Lavinia Bini, Ionut Pascu, Alessandro Spina, Laurent Kubla, Patrick Delcour, Stefano De Rosa, Pierre Nypels, Marc Tissons

2016-2017 seasonEdit

  • Puccini's Turandot, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: José Cura, with Tiziana Caruso, José Cura, Heather Engebretson, Luca Dall'Amico, Patrick Delcour, Gianni Mongiardino, Papuna Tchuradze, Xavier Rouillon, Roger Joakim
  • Verdi's Nabucco, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Leo Nucci, Ionut Pascu, Virginia Tola, Tatiana Melnychenko, Orlin Anastassov, Enrico Iori, Giulio Pelligra, Cristian Mogosan, Na’ama Goldman, Roger Joakim, Anne Renouprez, Papuna Tchuradze
  • Mozart's Don Giovanni, musical direction: Rinaldo Alessandrini, director: Jaco Van Dormael, with Mario Cassi, Laurent Kubla, Salome Jicia, Verónica Cangemi [fr], Leonardo Cortellazzi, Céline Mellon, Roger Joakim, Luciano Montanaro
  • Offenbach's Orphée aux Enfers, musical direction: Cyril Englebert, director: Claire Servais, with Papuna Tchuradze, Jodie Devos , Alexise Yerna, Pierre Doyen, Thomas Morris, Natacha Kowalski, Julie Bailly, Sarah Defrise, Frédéric Longbois, André Gass, Laura Balidemaj, Alexia Saffery, Yvette Wéris, Sylviane Binamé, Chantal Glaude, Palmina Grottola, Marc Tissons
  • Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, musical direction: Patrick Davin, director: Ruggero Raimondi, with Paul Groves, Nino Surguladze, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Laurent Kubla
  • Verdi's Jérusalem, musical direction: Speranza Scappucci, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Marc Laho, Elaine Alvarez, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Ivan Thirion, Pietro Picone, Natacha Kowalski, Patrick Delcour
  • Purcell's Dido and Æneas, musical direction: Guy Van Waas, director: Cécile Roussat, Julien Lubek, with Roberta Invernizzi, Benoit Arnould, Katherine Crompton, Carlo Allemano, Jenny Daviet, Caroline Meng, Benedetta Mazzucato
  • Verdi's Otello, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with José Cura, Cinzia Forte, Pierre-Yves Pruvot, Giulio Pelligra, Alexise Yerna, Roger Joakim, Papuna Tchuradze, Patrick Delcour, Marc Tissons

2017-2018 seasonEdit

  • Puccini's Manon Lescaut, musical direction: Speranza Scappucci, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Anna Pirozzi, Marcello Giordani, Ionut Pascu, Marcel Vanaud, Pietro Picone, Alexise Yerna, Patrick Delcour
  • Bellini's Norma, musical direction: Massimo Zanetti, director: Davide Garattini Raimondi, with Patrizia Ciofi, Silvia Dalla Benetta, Gregory Kunde, Josè Maria Lo Monaco, Roberto Tagliavini, Papuna Tchuradze
  • Donizetti's La Favorite, musical direction: Luciano Acocella, director: Rosetta Cucchi, with Sonia Ganassi, Celso Albelo, Mario Cassi, Ugo Guagliardo, Alexise Yerna, Matteo Roma
  • Verdi's Rigoletto, musical direction: Giampaolo Bisanti, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with George Petean, Devid Cecconi, Jessica Nuccio, Lavinia Bini, Giuseppe Gipali, Davide Giusti, Alessandro Spina, Sarah Laulan, Roger Joakim, Patrick Delcour, Alexise Yerna, Giovanni Iovino
  • Bizet's Carmen, musical direction: Speranza Scappucci, director: Henning Brockhaus, with Nino Surguladze, Gala El Hadidi, Marc Laho, Mickael Spadaccini, Silvia Dalla Benetta, Lionel Lhote, Laurent Kubla, Natacha Kowalski, Alexise Yerna, Patrick Delcour, Papuna Tchuradze, Roger Joakim, Alexandre Tireliers
  • Auber's Le Domino noir, musical direction: Patrick Davin, director: Christian Hecq, Valérie Lesort, with Anne-Catherine Gillet, Cyrille Dubois, Antoinette Dennefeld, François Rougier, Marie Lenormand, Laurent Kubla, Sylvia Berger
  • Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, musical direction: Christophe Rousset, director: Emilio Sagi, with Mario Cassi, Judith Van Wanroij, Leon Kosavic, Jodie Devos, Raffaella Milanesi, Julien Véronèse, Alexise Yerna, Julie Mossay, Enrico Casari, Patrick Delcour
  • Rossini's La donna del lago, musical direction: Michele Mariotti, director: Damiano Michieletto, with Salome Jicia, Marianna Pizzolato, Maxim Mironov, Sergei Romanovsky, Simón Orfila, Denzil Delaere, Julie Bailly
  • Verdi' Macbeth, musical direction: Paolo Arrivabeni, director: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, with Leo Nucci, Tatiana Serjan, Vincenzo Costanzo, Giacomo Prestia, Papuna Tchuradze, Alexise Yerna, Roger Joakim


Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ This colonnade comes from the former Church of the Carthusian monks in Cornillon [fr].
  2. ^ According to Stefano Mazzonis, Opera Director, the Opera has "one of the most efficient stages in the world, enough to produce the greatest shows and we must remain at this level" Cf. Joël Matriche (15 September 2012). "Un des meilleurs plateaux au monde". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  3. ^ Amount to which must be added a subsidy of 174,000 euros, serving as repayment of the loan contracted by the institution.
  4. ^ Some 210 people work at the Opera to which must be added temporary contracts, generally artists hired in connection with a particular production : "Tous les visages de l'Opéra". L'Avenir. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2019.


  1. ^ Ruwet, Robert; Cariaux, Albert (2008). Liège éternelle; Les traces d'antan dans les rues d'aujourd'hui. Mémoire en images. Tempus. p. 74.
  2. ^ https://architectura.be/nl/nieuws/2903/a2rc-wint-fireforum-award-voor-de-opera-royale-de-wallonie
  3. ^ Vincianne D'Anna (September 2009). "Rénovation de l'opéra royal de Wallonie". culture.ulg.ac.be (in French). Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  4. ^ Jean-Marie Wynants (19 September 2012). "Les habits neufs de l'opéra royal de Wallonie". Le Soir. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  5. ^ Luc Roger (15 March 2011). "Prochainement à l'opéra de Munich: Lucrezia Borgia et I Capuleti e Montecchi". munichandco.blogspot.be. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  6. ^ Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera on Forum Opera


  • Dejarnac, Patrick (1995). Ballet masques. Liège: Chauveheid.
  • Marchesani, Frédéric (2012). Le Théâtre de Liège. Du Théâtre royal à l'opéra royal de Wallonie. Namur: Institut du patrimoine wallon. p. 304. ISBN 978-2-87522-086-8.
  • Martiny, Jules (1887). Histoire du Théâtre de Liège, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Liège: Vaillant-Carmanne.
  • Vendrix, Philippe (1995). La Genèse d'un opéra. Le Théâtre de Liège en 1820. Liège: Société liégeoise de Musicologie.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 50°38′36″N 5°34′13″E / 50.64333°N 5.57028°E / 50.64333; 5.57028