Woody Allen Returns to Barcelona for New Year's Concert

Shows by Van Morrison, Bob Geldof & more to follow Allen's opening of new tourist-friendly Suite Festival BCN Music Experience.

Woody Allen will revisit the scene of his movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona on New Year's Eve, when he'll give a gala performance with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band at the city's Liceu opera house.

The holiday concert, followed by a dinner in the theater lobby for 350 VIP ticketholders, could rekindle the director-clarinet player's relationship with the Barcelona public, which took an antagonistic turn during the filming of 2008's Vicky Cristina. The shooting of the movie Allen called his "love letter to Barcelona" at postcard-worthy locations in the city center disrupted the flow of everyday traffic, irking locals. A bigger controversy arose when it was revealed that the state and city governments had contributed taxpayer dollars to the film’s budget. Such was the uproar that Allen reportedly ended up cancelling two other projects originally planned for production in Spain, and moved on to London, Paris and Rome.

Allen and the New Orleans Jazz Band have been playing a weekly date this fall at NY’s Café Carlyle. They will also perform Dec. 23 at Royce Hall in Los Angeles.   

The Barcelona show will open the inaugural edition of the Suite Festival BCN Music Experience, a concert series designed to attract a broader audience, beyond habitual opera-goers, to the venerable Liceu. Administrators of the elaborately decorated opera house, which first opened in 1847, have been struggling to keep the theater alive, and relevant, after being hit with cuts in government subsidies.

The English name of the Suite Festival and the descriptor BCN Music Experience make one target market clear: foreigners. Foreign residents of Barcelona are plentiful, and tourism keeps rising. In the first six months of 2014, some 8.8 million tourists visited Catalonia, homing in on Barcelona's central boulevard, La Rambla, where the Liceu is located. The festival is presented by Barcelona concert promoter Clipper's Music in partnership with the Liceu.

"We hope this festival will continue for many years," said Roger Guasch, the theater's director, at a press conference. "And that its success will ultimately permit us to present opera and classical music of the highest quality."

The Suite Festival offers one of the more mature lineups of Barcelona's many music festivals: Van Morrison, Bob Geldof, Gregory Porter, Spanish singers Luz Casal and Antonio Orozco, and violinist Ara Malikian are scheduled to perform in separate concerts through April. Three more shows are yet to be announced.