La Palau de la Música Catalana was the most spectacular example of Catalan Modernist architecture that I came across in my two weeks in Barcelona. No, this is not a Gaudi building. This magnificent concert hall was designed by Gaudi's teacher Montaner. I toured this music palace with an expert guide and mesmerized group. In Europe, all guides seem to be expert and ebullent. The experience of this place, guide + architectural elements, made me feel ebullent, too.
|The corner of the facade|
|Looking up at the facade|
|The box office in a column|
The elaborate vestibule is visible from the outside because of the clear glass walls. In fact, part of the vestibule's fanciness is attributed to the balusters holding up the banisters and balustrade rails. The center of each baluster is made of iron painted white and this post is surrounded by glass. This combination, glass surrounded by iron, is reminiscent of the building itself--clear glass at street level and stained glass higher up, all supported by iron.
|These are the balusters: iron surrounded by glass|
The Palau has its own matching cafe:
This venue hosts all types of music performances except opera because there is a separate opera house a mile or so away. I was lucky enough to attend an authentic Flamenco performance here with a group of writing colleagues. (I wonder what they are writing about this experience!) In my memory are glimpses of those energetic dancers from Gran Gala Flamenco who seemed to lose themselves in their art, at times almost seeming to go into trance-like seizures. Their feet tapped and stomped exotic, complicated rhythms as a band of six musicians and one vocalist accompanied. There were silken ruffles, lots of fringe, shawls slicing through the air, and many costume changes. Some numbers features two dancers, some featured one, and some featured four. I had the feeling while watching this performance that I transcended the cartoonish cliché Flamenco and entered a world of serious art. I put aside the cliché and became mesmerized by the performers' virtuosity. Here's a taste of this spicy art:
The Palau Música de la Catalana heightened the magic of this performance. I've never been in a concert hall that featured stained glass windows, but this hall has stained glass on either side of the auditorium and an enormous inverted dome stained glass skylight which is shaped as a drop of water forming but certainly represents the sun. I couldn't resist purchasing a scarf featuring this design at the Palau's gift shop.
|Breathtaking skylight (The ladies faces around the edge are supposed to be the faces of the women's choir for whom this palace was originally built.|
|A close-up of some of the muses|
|A longshot of the stage, organ pipes, and auditorium. Notice the stained glass on either side.|
|My walk from class every day--La Palau is on the right|
|This is the Interval (Intermission) Room. Notice the columns covered with mosaic tile just outside. Each is different!|
I want to go back immediately and experience more concerts in this palace of music and whimsy!