1820-2020: the Opera celebrates its Bicentenary! Until the content of this exceptional event is revealed, the Opera invites you to retrace its 200 years of history. Each Friday, an episode will take you back in time.

The Opera built on the ruins of a convent!

In 1805, the only active theater in Liège burns. Located on the “Batte”, this loss deprived the Ardent City of scenic art for almost 10 years! How to imagine it today? Finally, the City of Liège launched the project to build a new Theater. A special committee, commissioned by the municipal council, takes charge of it. Having assessed the issue, the choice of place goes to … the garden of the Dominican convent!

Cremetti (Ed. Jamar), L’Église et le couvent des Dominicains, lithography, 1817 © Collections artistiques de l’Université de Liège.


On 18th April 1816, when the Belgian state did not yet exist as such, King William of the Netherlands authorized the administration to make the Dominican convent available to the City of Liège. In 1818, the building was demolished and will give way, after two years of work, to the Royal Theater, inaugurated on 4th November 1820.

  • The 3th of July 1816, the committee opened a register for subscribers wishing to support the construction of the theater. The entire project is funded by the subscription system. It is therefore the citizens who allowed the construction of the Theater.
  • The first opera that was performed at the inauguration on the 4th of November 1820, was Zémire et Azor of Grétry.
  • The painter Emile Berchmans painted the dome of the room in 1903 while his brother Oscar Berchmans created the chandelier which is placed in the center.

Next week, don’t miss the next episode over the huge canvas of the Opera ceiling!

Don’t miss anything of this vibrant season and share your experiences on the social networks with the Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège: # operaliege200