Barcelona opera chief under pressure over drug users

Barcelona opera chief under pressure over drug users


norman lebrecht

May 19, 2022

Víctor Garcia de Gomar, artistic director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, is in trouble over remarks he made last week about the opera house being abused by drug users.

The theatre has got a new set of doors which Gomar said, were designed to protect staff from ‘people who shoot heroin or want to sleep here.’ He went on the say that the Liceu was a ‘paradise, but sometimes we meet hell’ at the entrance, adding: ‘it is necessary to protect this space so as not to be complicit in things that happen here, from people who take heroin, people who want to sleep here, situations like rape and prostitution.’

Gomar was promptly rebuked by a deputy mayor, but a coalition of citizens are now calling for his resignation.


  • Una says:

    Perhaps he’s more street-wise than most!

  • Brian says:

    It’s easier to cancel someone who critiques homelessness and illicit drug use that to actually address the problem. Step one is always to admit that there’s a problem.

  • Gustavo Paz-Pujalt says:

    It is a travesty that the Catalan public shames someone who speaks the truth. The real shame is on them as a society for allowing this and not seeking solutions to the problem.

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      I agree with Brian and Gustavo.
      Victor Garcia de Gomar is one of the most respected administrators in the business.
      His encyclopedic knowledge of opera and music in general is sorely needed when a house as important has the Liceu has an opera ingénue as its Intendant.
      I suspect the doors to which Garcia de Gomar refer are on the narrow Carrer de Sant Pau alley which runs beside the Liceu from La Rambla to the Hotel Espanya.
      This has long been a site of distressing drug-related behaviour and connected street crime.
      The issue is not so much that these lamentable activities occur cheek by seedy jowl to Barcelona’s premier cultural institution, but that a city of such conspicuous affluence can not take better care of its less fortunate residents.
      If any resignations are to be called for, surely it should be the public health officials who have for many years failed to deal with one of Barcelona’s most blatant and degrading social problems.

      • Javier de Ávila says:

        Dear Jonathan, I think that you are not very well informed. The doors are the principal ones. And about you comment about the “ingénue Intendant” I suspect that you probably know personally Mr. Victor García and his bad relationship with the Liceu’s Intendant. Everyones knows it.

        • Jonathan Sutherland says:

          Dear Javier.
          Thank you for your correction regarding which doors were the subject of this post.
          I did however say ‘I suspect…’ and did not make a definitive statement as to their location.
          The squalid Carrer de Sant Pau is exactly as I described it.
          As for your embittered denigration of Señor Garcia de Gomar in a subsequent comment, perhaps you could explain why he enjoyed such a phenomenal success in his previous position as Artistic Director of the Palau de la Música Catalana?
          There also remains the issue of the operatic if not musical credentials of Liceu Intendant Valentí Oviedo.
          As his academic qualifications are entirely restricted to business administration studies, this makes him even less suitable to run a major opera house than Peter Gelb and Bogdan Roščić combined.

  • christopher storey says:

    Let us hope that the coalition does not contain drug users and pushers , or they might find that the guardia civil come along to deliver the midnight knock . What an absolute disgrace that a mayor criticises him

  • CRogers says:

    The absurdities of another attempt at cancel culture. When are some people ever going to learn that because somebody offers an (informed) opinion about their building and the social issues it can bring with it, isn’t necessary an attack? Cancel culture is essentially ignorance. We all say things that might offend but when spoken in good faith where is the compassion? It’s a matter of becoming more emotionall literate…..

  • tzctslip says:

    Well, it seems that the people enraged about this are a far left organisation (which complains about “stigmatisation” as if nobody had seen the disgrace in which some parts of the old town have turned itselves into), also the article to which you link, in Catalonian, is written in a website that accepts comments in Catalonian only (or you would be kicked out of the website ) which gives and indication of the kind of people behind it (so people can understand what is written they say, as if Catalonians couldn’t speak Castilian), both seem to think too bourgeois to expect that going to the opera shouldn’t include avoiding drug users in the way to the entrance.
    Oh well.

  • Javier de Ávila says:

    Dear friends, Victor García de Gomar is one of the worst artistic directors that have ever had the Gran Teatre del Liceu in the last years. May be you don’t know what’s really happening in the theater every season. His comments about people, that may be need help and not only bad worst, are only a symptom. Probably only the people of Círculo del Liceu (Private Club in the Theater) are agree with his words, but I can sure you that the rest of the citizens of Barcelona are really angry with him.
    And it’s not true that the information has appeared only in Newspapers written in Catalan. It has appeared in ALL the mainstream newspapers including La Vanguardia, El Pais, Diarioes…, and in the main Televisions.

    Perhaps, being a member of one of the richest families of Spain (Roca) helps to keep him from being fired.

    • rita says:

      ” a member of one of the richest families of Spain (Roca) ” – you’d think in that case he could sell the incontinent of the Ramblas a couple of loos instead 🙂

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      An additional observation.
      Javier de Ávila seems to think that real or rumoured private wealth should somehow disqualify someone from achieving an impressive career.
      If one follows that illogical and irrelevant Marxist thinking, does that mean Luchino Visconti was also unworthy of his status as one of Italy’s most important film makers?
      Not only was Visconti from an enormously wealthy ducal family, he was born Count of Lonata Pozzolola.
      And finally, if Valentí Oviedo had not benefited from the formidable expertise and vast knowledge of Victor Garcia de Gomar and before him, Christina Scheppelmann as Artistic Directors, the Gran Teatre del Liceu would have descended to a third-rate zarzuela house from the moment Oviedo gained his disastrous, and patently political appointment in 2018.

      • Javier de Ávila says:

        Dear Mr. Sutherland. It is clear that you know Mr. García de Gomar personally and you want to defend him. Everything OK. Secondly, I did not say that because of his wealth or family he is unworthy to hold his professional position. This is not about Marxism, it is simply about professional competence. Víctor García was NEVER artistic director of the Palau de la Música, but rather deputy artistic director. From this position, where he only programmed concerts, he moved to the Liceu without EVER having programmed a single staged opera. And finally, without wishing to defend Mr. Oviedo, I will say that some of the productions we have seen lately have been proposed by him, such as the Wozzeck that they are programming just now. Ariadne auf Naxos and Lessons of violence, were programmed by Mr. Scheppelmann, and Pelleas was proposed by Alex Ollé. On the other hand, the Da Ponte trilogy and the 175th Anniversary Concert, both disastrous in terms of presentation and organisation, yes, they have been programmed by Mr. García de Gomar.
        I think that in the Cercle del Liceu, some of you have not the correct informations.

        • Jonathan Sutherland says:

          This exchange could go on longer than Meistersinger.
          From a purely pedantic point of view, you are correct that Mr García de Gomar was technically deputy artistic director of the Palau de la Música Catalana but every musician and his miserable perro knows that VGdG made all the artistic decisions and programming for that wonderful building.
          Whilst he may not have actually cast or programmed an opera before, his knowledge of opera, singers, conductors and directors was, at least in Barcelona, second to none.
          Certainly vastly superior to that of the Intendant who apparently has trouble distinguishing Monteverdi from Messiaen.
          Finally, your continued aspersions against the Círculo del Liceo can only be made by someone who is unsuitable for membership.
          If you had any real insight into this organisation, you would know that Valentí Oviedo is a much more frequent habitué of its gilded salons than Victor Garcia de Gomar.
          Oh – another small point. Former Artistic Director Scheppelmann is not ‘Mr’ but rather ‘Ms’ or perhaps ‘Miss’ depending on the level of your political correctness or degree of good manners.

      • fred says:

        what’s wrong with zarzuela, not highbrow nuff for you?

        • Jonathan Sutherland says:

          Not at all.
          I think Zarzuela is wonderful and an integral part of Spanish performing arts culture.
          To make an Anglo comparison, I also like Gilbert and Sullivan but it works better in somewhere like the Savoy Theatre than Covent Garden.

  • TheCriticalThinker says:

    What did Gomar say that was so wrong? If he was telling the truth? Is this America’s “Cancel Culture” spreading to Europe now?! Is it more important to protect homeless people, drug addicts & the lowest people in society than assure a safe working environment for artists??! What our world has becoming??! Socialist? Communist?? Who the h**l are those “coalition of citizens”? The Deputy Mayor should resign!!!