La Monnaie / De Munt La Monnaie
De Munt
Behind the scenes
In the wings of the opera

Set Workshops


Workshops, 1st floor

“Everything that comes through the workshops ends up here.” 

N.S., head of the painting workshop 

From the monumental…

The masterful backdrops are one of the specialities of the Painting workshop. They can measure up to 11 m high and 25 m wide! The great height of the workshop allows the evolution of the work being carried out to be viewed from above.

Scenery for Pikovaya Dama D.R..

…to the smallest details

How something looks from a distance is crucial, but the detail is equally so!

The set of for Contes d'Hoffmann (2019). To recreate the gold wall of the reception of the hotel in Shining, the painters of the workshop first covered the panels with a gold acrylic patina, then glued on thin copper leaf.

In broad daylight…

The workshop’s large windows provide plenty of light for the painters to work in.

Stage curtain for Bluebeard’s Castle (2018) Nathalie Salaméro

…to darkness and spotlights

But all the sets painted here end up onstage. The painters frequently switch off the lights in the workshop and light the canvases with spotlights to get an impression of the final effect. Very often, the colours must be darkened to counteract the brightness onstage.

Stage curtain for Bluebeard’s Castle(2018) Nathalie Salaméro

From traditionnal techniques…

The à l’italienne method consists of painting on canvases that are stretched on the ground using long brushes. Images are reproduced “by the square” (the original is divided into squares which are then reproduced, one by one, on the canvas).

Scenery for Pikovaya Dama.

…To cutting edge tools

Paint brushes of all shapes and sizes, rollers, spray guns are the everyday tools of the painters. But they are also frequently tasked with constructing tools to measure to meet each new challenge set by the designers (large sculpted foam wheels to imitate wheel tracks, for example).

Pieter Claes


Fake concrete, fake snow, fake marble… patinas and textures are indispensable to opera scenery.

Snow for the set of Frankenstein (2019)

…and figurative.

Stormy skies, abandoned towns, mysterious mountains, enchanted forests, landscapes, and extraordinary motifs; sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative…

Lohengrin (2018), painted by Pedro Coïro / credits photo: Nathalie Salaméro

In total safety…

At La Monnaie, all the wooden parts of the sets are fireproofed, in other words, coated with intumescent black paint. This makes them slower to catch alight (but does not prevent them from burning entirely, merely allowing an orderly evacuation of the auditorium and of the stage in the event of a fire). Anti-rust treatments are also applied to the metal parts of the sets.

For Lucio Silla (2017), the painters of the workshop covered the branches of fifteen large fir trees in fireproof paint. For this job, which took several weeks, basins were made to measure to soak the branches in before they were repainted blue and green with spray guns…

… while thinking about the future

Since 2018, in an effort to develop a more ecologically sound model of production, La Monnaie has been considering ways to reduce the environmental impact of the sets. More and more elements are now recycled within the Workshops, while others are entrusted to external partners who give them a second life.

The plastics from La Bohème (2002), recycled and repurposed to form the concrete walls for Norma (2021).
Lohengrin (2018), painted by: Pedro Coïro and Nathalie Salaméro / photo: Nathalie Salaméro