Standing on the street, trying to stare up at the opulent façade of the Modernista building I found myself trying to shield my eyes from the overhead afternoon sun. We were standing before the uber opulent Palau de la Musica Catalan in Barcelona. While we’d definitely wanted to see the interior, instead of doing a quick tour, we decided to watch a show in there, a flamenco show, and truly get a feel of the whole thing, while killing two birds with one stone. So we picked up our tickets for the Gran Gala Y Flamenco, telling ourselves not to gawk at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and that we’d be back in a few hours anyway.
We rushed home, to rest up a bit, then shower and change and soon we found ourselves standing before the same building again. But was it the same? Now that it was nearing sundown, it had undergone a complete transformation. Bathed in light, the colours on the façade sparkled with magic before our eyes. Crowds, all dressed up milled about discussing what they were about to witness. We walked in and were so overwhelmed by the old world charm of the place, we almost expected someone to offer to take our jackets (it being summer, there were no jackets) It felt like we were just out for another evening at the opera in the year 1908 as we looked up at the sweeping marble staircase that lay before us. We were ushered in by a very official looking woman who escorted us to the Dress Circle. As we found our seats and settled in, I looked around at the large 2000 capacity hall and then at Charles in absolute amazement. He had managed to book us the best seats in the house! He shrugged, trying to look nonchalant, but probably beaming with pride on his little feat on the inside.
You see the seating is spread across 3 levels. The ground level (stalls), which is below the stage can be a bit of a pain in the neck (quite literally) as you strain to see what’s going on despite these seats being the most expensive, and the second level (Upper Circle) is too high up to be able to enjoy the performance without one of those old fashioned binoculars. Then there were seats above the stage, around the pipe organ, which essentially meant you’d either see the artist’s backside or the tops of their heads, but these seats are extremely cheap. We were right in front of the stage on the first level, at the very front of the balcony.
After looking awestruck at the phenomenal stain-glass ceiling, and all the other million details in the interiors, we settled down for an hour and a half of being absolutely riveted. Flamenco turned out to be a surprising balance of power and grace. There were about 5 different dancers that danced different sections to a line of singers behind them. And the way their bodies contorted gracefully, their arms swinging, feet tapping with immense power, the sweat flying from their hair as they twirled, the chemistry as their eyes locked into each other’s, it was stunning. And the voices, the way they held the music and everyone’s breath so easily. Like a strange gypsy sound, with some similarities to Middle Eastern tunes.
And it wasn’t just us that were so swept away by this experience, the endless applause was unanimous and it brought them back for a couple of encores! We’d most definitely recommend this show as a must see to anyone who was even contemplating giving it a miss.Palau de la Música Catalana C/ Palau de la Musica 4-6, 08003 Barcelona Tel: 90344882 http://www.palaumusica.cat/en Tickets can be purchased online at the BCNShop here. Upper circle €33, Dress circle €38, Stalls €48 Disclaimer: Photography is not permitted inside, however the ushers turn a blind eye if you aren’t using flash and as long as you put your camera away while the show is on.