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The Liceu is premiering the participatory opera The Monster in the Maze

'El monstre al laberint' (© A. Bofill)

  • The opera, The Monster in the Maze, by Jonathan Dove, is being stage directed by Paco Azorín and musically conducted by Manel Valdivieso. It features the participation of 700 young secondary school students from 15 schools in Catalonia and the Liceu Conservatory Symphony Orchestra presented in four performances.

  • The show transports the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur to the current reality of refugees and does so with a 360° opera production that uses the stage and seating area to generate an immersive experience and, at the same time, guarantee social distancing measures.

  • Due to the pandemic, the proposal, scheduled for last season, was postponed until this year. Despite the difficulties created by the health situation, the Liceu manages to present a participatory opera, an exceptional event in the current international scene.

  • Integrated within the LiceuAprèn learning programme (the Liceu’s educational service), the production becomes a global artistic experience that has made it possible to develop a comprehensive training project and to raise awareness of current issues.

  • The project, which began in January 2019, will cover the following seasons and aims to bring opera, music, acting, movement, reflection and commitment to hundreds of students in Catalonia. 

  • The Monster in the Maze is possible thanks to the joint efforts of companies and institutions that have put their trust in developing the LiceuAprèn project. The production is supported by the ‘la Caixa’ Foundation, Grifols, the Bosch Aymerich Foundation, the Barcelona Free Trade Zone Consortium, Moventia and the Liceu Conservatory.

  • You can query all the safety adaptations for COVID that have been made for the performances of The Monster in the Maze at this link

Barcelona, 20 April 2021. The Gran Teatre del Liceu presents The Monster in the Maze from 24 to 27 April, a participatory and choral opera by Jonathan Dove, and directed by Paco Azorín. The production is the result of participation by hundreds of young secondary school students from 15 schools in Catalonia , professional musicians and performing arts personnel, as well as the Liceu Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. Azorín transports the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur to the current reality of refugees and does so with an opera in 360° that uses the stage and the seating area to create an immersive experience, with video creations by Pedro Chamizo. At the same time, an all-encompassing pedagogical project is being developed based on The Monster in the Maze, that comprises, in addition to the musical and artistic work, a connection with different fields of the knowledge, a connection with the present time, but mainly invites young people to make a much-needed critical reflection on the world we are living in. It is art as a tool for criticism and social reflection.

'El monstre al laberint' (© A. Bofill)

This production has been promoted within the Gran Teatre del Liceu’s artistic and educational programme. It promotes a passion for the arts for secondary school students and encourages their participation and the joint creation of an opera. About 700 secondary and A level students from 15 schools have worked for months on the musical preparation of the opera, the staging and the creative process with professionals from the movement and the stage (Carlos Martos), singing (Buia Reixach) and with the music teachers from their centres. Their active participation has immersed the young people more deeply into music and performance, as well as in group commitment and transversal learning.  

'El monstre al laberint' (© A. Bofill)

Different young participants will take part in each performance and will share the stage with the Càrmina Chorale and the Bruckner Choir, as well as soloists Roger Padullés (Theseus), Gemma Coma-Alabert (mother) and Elías Arranz (Daedalus) and actor Marc Pujol (King Minos). All of them are conducted by Maestro Manel Valdivieso and accompanied by the Orquestra del Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu (Orchestra of the Liceu Higher Musical Conservatory), which has also been part of the entire learning process.  

'El monstre al laberint' (© A. Bofill)

The story of overcoming and survival conveyed by the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has led Paco Azorín to situate the action in the present, creating a parallelism with the problems of migration and refugees that are affecting our society so greatly. This connection with reality has enabled the Liceu’s educational service to reinforce the objectives of knowledge and social and civic awareness, and that has also collaborated in developing a comprehensive training project that involves various areas that go beyond just artistic and musical knowledge.

The origin of the composition

The Monster in the Maze was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), the Berliner Philarmoniker and the Aix-en-Provence Festival, who asked composer Jonathan Dove for a contemporary creation that could be performed by a mixed cast, with professional singers and fans, but that also left room for young performers from the different countries where it would be performed.

The plot

The story is known to many: the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Minos, the king of Crete, has a labyrinth in his palace inside which lives a terrible monster, half man, half bull, who feeds on human flesh. And since Minos has defeated Athens in a battle, he demands that every year the city send him a group of young people to feed his monster. To put an end to the bloody demands of Minos, the young Theseus, another Athenian, joins the group of boys and girls destined to be victims of the monster. And as they enter the maze, they will find a way to kill the creature and save the lives of their fellow adventurers. A history of common challenges and the need to work as a team.

'El monstre al laberint' (© A. Bofill)

Adaptations due to the pandemic

This proposal was originally scheduled for last season, but was postponed until this year due to the pandemic. Despite the current health circumstances, the Theatre has kept the project going by applying the safety measures required to make the Liceu a safe space. In that way, it has managed to present a participatory opera, an exceptional fact in the current international scene, and with a huge effort to adapt the project to the current situation.  

A specific safety protocol has been established for producing The Monster in the Maze, which can be consulted in detail at this link. Both the rehearsals and the staging have been adapted with health measures that include: maintaining distances, remaining with bubble groups as instituted by schools, disinfection of spaces, temperature control, as well as the flow of people, and others.

Although the opera’s staging has been revised and adapted to the safety measures arising from COVID, the project has not forfeited making an artistically spectacular show for both the young participants and the audience who will attend.

LiceuAprèn

The Monster in the Maze is part of the LiceuAprèn (LiceuLearning) project, the Gran Teatre del Liceu’s new educational service that has taken on the challenge of adapting its programme to the present-day situation, by innovating in the creation of shows and the training offer to continue cementing itself as a cultural reference both in terms of opera and the other arts. LiceuAprèn works in three main areas: in the creation and production of shows aimed at children and young people; in a broad and diverse training programme in terms of recipients, contents and formats; and in collaborative links with different institutions for inclusion, collaboration, training, research and innovation.   

Parallel activities

The project, which began in January 2019, will run through the following seasons and aims to bring opera, music, acting, movement, reflection and commitment to hundreds of students in Catalonia. In this regard, the Liceu’s educational service has designed training materials and carried out training activities, both for students and teachers, which promote the design and development of all-encompassing projects in schools centred around The Monster in the Maze. These activities include audiovisual materials for students or conferences on the reality of refugees and migrants, such as the dialogue that took place at the Liceu between Jordi Savall and Òscar Camps. 

The Liceu is also carrying out a docuseries that will enable us to follow how all these young people have worked collectively to foment this opera and take the Gran Teatre del Liceu stage for the first time. All materials can be seen on the Liceu webpage and on the Liceu’s YouTube channel.