History of Teatre
1667 - 2023
The theatre opened its doors on 27 August 1667 under the name Casa de las Comedias (House of Comedies) and with a capacity of 800 people. A board of theologians had gathered beforehand in order to determine if it was legal to stage comedies.
This Casa de las Comedias had a basically rectangular shape floor plan, over three floors and four floors of boxes, with an auditorium and stage. It had a lobby, a café, corridors, stairs to access the different levels and some storage rooms. It followed the model of corrales (Spanish open-air theatres) thus eschewing the curved shape adopted in a large part of Europe. In 1788 an arched gateway was created in the facade, with a terrace located over it.
War of Succession
The new theatre
This year marked the start of work on the new theatre, led by the Mallorcan architect Antoni Sureda i Villalonga. During construction, performances moved to the Círculo Mallorquín. The interior décor was created by the French set designer Fèlix Cagé, who also decorated the Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona. It was opened on 19 November 1857 under the name of Teatro de la Princesa and the inauguration was attended by Queen Isabella II and the Princess of Asturias.
The new building increased the surface area with the acquisition of a neighbouring property in 1854, next to the stage.
The structure corresponded to the standard model for these buildings in that era: a semi-circular floor plan and two floors. The facade, in turn, was structured around three bodies. The central one was of greatest importance due to its decorative treatment. It consisted of three floors crowned with a triangular pediment in the style of the temples of classical antiquity, decorated with reliefs of a mythological nature, the seven muses, a work by Ricard Anckermann. The ground floor had three gateways with round arches. The first floor had a row of eight Ionic columns and the second had Corinthian columns.
What stood out about the interior was the pictorial decoration of the roof by Felix Cagé, depicting the god Helios, on a chariot with white horses, surrounded by allegorical representations of theatre, music and dance.
The floor of the theatre is shaped similarly to a horseshoe. The stage is quadrangular shaped and the roof of the theatre was made slightly curved due to acoustics reasons. There are four heights of boxes, including those in the stalls, which surround the seating area and feature decorations in relief. In turn, the seating area slopes down towards the stage in order to improve the view and also for acoustics.
Just a year later, on June 12 1858 the theatre was completely destroyed by a fire after a performance of the Macbeth opera.
Once it was rebuilt, by the same decorator and with the same layout, the theatre was reopened on 14 September 1860, now named the Teatro del Príncipe de Asturias. The performance chosen for the occasion was La campana de la Almudaina by Joan Palou i Coll and Isabella II once again attended.
As a result of the 1868 Revolution the theatre changed name again and became known as the Teatre Principal. During street fighting the marble statue of Isabella II in Plaza de la Reina was torn down. The marble debris from the sculpture was used to build the entry stairway from the hall to the theatre stairs, which was removed in the 2007 renovation.
The Teatre Principal has undergone many different renovations and modifications to it structure. The first was during 1932 and it significantly changed the internal look of the theatre in order to increase its capacity.
Between 1975 and 1978, after a period of private management, the building returned to public ownership. In this period the auditorium area was renovated in order to increase its capacity. The dressing room area was also refurbished.
The theatre was taken over by the Council of Mallorca, the institutional heir of the former Regional Government.
The Teatre Principal at the present time
The last work on the Teatre Principal began in 2002 and the architect Felipe Delgado Laguna was commissioned to carry it out. The project, completed in 2007, was based around the idea of adapting the building to current needs by fitting it out with the latest technological advances.
The extension has resulted in an exterior metal body, that is totally neutral and inside the height of the stage has been extended from 14 to 23 metres. The restored theatre has retained its historic character.