In the 18th century Brussels opera was second only to Paris. Although the popularity of opera has slowly given way to classical music and jazz scenes in Brussels, you will still find operas playing at the Brussels opera house of La Monnaie (the Mint) and the Royal Music Conservatory. Here is a brief introduction to these two venues. For detailed listings of the operas that will play during the time you are visiting Brussels simply have a look at the publications noted in the Entertainment listings section of this guide.
Housing a multi-storey balcony and curtained theatre, this traditional opera house was re-built three times by different rulers of Brussels. It now plays about one to two operas per month in its grand chambers. Other performances include theatre, recitals, dance and concerts. Tours of the opera house are also available for visitors who are interested in the architecture of this old building.
Royal Music Conservatory
The Royal Music Conservatory of Brussels or Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles is located at Rue de la Régence 30. It is just down the road from the Royal Palace and Parc area. It is first and foremost a school housing some of the foremost talents of musical and theatrical arts in Brussels. Concerts are organised all year around for students to practice their performances in front of live audiences. Listings are available in detail in the Bulletin magazine and also on their website www.conservatoire.be
Brussels Opera House Building
The Brussels opera house is officially called Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Koninklijke Muntschouwburg). Shortened and popular form is La Monnaie, de Munt in Dutch and the Mint in English. The site of the building was originally the site of a coin mint, hence the name.
In the 18th century, this theatre was one of the most popular theatres in Europe after those in Paris. It has undergone three incarnations since its first inception in 1700. The second design was by Louise Damesme, built in 1818 and survived until 1855. It was built in the Neo-classical style and the roads in front of the theatre to make way for the current square to give the theatre a touch of grandeur.
After only 40 years, the theatre was rebuilt once again. The original designer was Joseph Poelaert, the same designer for the Palais de Justice, who used the eclectic style; a mix of Neo-Baroque, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Rococo. Although major restoration was carried out in 1985, the design has stayed relatively the same and the interior of the concert hall remains unchanged.
The theatre currently sits an audience of 1,700. It hosts plays, operas, concerts, recitals and orchestras and makes for a great night out in Brussels. A calendar is available on their website or check out the latest Bulletin magazine at the newspaper outlets to get a full agenda of arts and performances in Brussels.
Guided tours are available by appointment but open guided tours are scheduled every Saturday from 12pm without booking. Tickets can be purchased at the bookshop one hour before the tour begins.
Location in Brussels
La Monnaie is located at Place de la Monnaie, directly behind an old shopping mall, the Munt Centrum, off Rue du Fosse aux Loups. It is north of the Grand Place and south of the shopping street called Rue Neuve