Opera de Palma – Palma de Mallorca (ESP)


This case is currently being investigated by the courts. Calatrava, who was initially acused has been acquitted by judge Castro. The investigation continues however, focusing on former president Jaume Matas.

During a meal with local Matas (now in jail for corruption for another case) Calatrava drew a plan for a prestigious opera building on a napkin. Little did Matas know Calatrava was selling him an old project that was rejected in 1989 by the swiss city of Luzern. Matas accepted as he hoped the ambitious project might help him win the upcoming elections. Calatrava received 1,2 million € for a cartboard model and some videos of this project that was never seriously considered by anyone.

The following are crude notes and links I have gathered during my research. The information may be in various languages and is being updated during the research process until a full article is written. 

From the Spinal Tap movie: “Forget this! Fuck the napkin!” Calatrava is known to draw projects on napkins during diners with politician friends.


Wait! The roof opens and closes! How original for Calatrava!


The original 1989 design.

Corruptiezaak op mallorca waar een peperdure wielerbaan werd neergelegd.

Este asunto se asemejaba al destapado en el caso Palma Arena, donde se investiga el pago en 2006 del entonces presidente balear Jaume Matas de 1,2 millones de euros a Calatrava por el anteproyecto, la maqueta y unos vídeos de un palacio de la ópera.

Opera de palma

The opera house was never built. The Mallorcan government paid 1,2M € to Calatrava for which it supposedly received two cardboard models and a Power Point presentation. The affair smells of corruption: Calatrava was chosen as an arquitect for a non-existent project for which he received 1,2 M € of public money and that only served as a publicity stunt for the election of president Jaume Matas.

The case is currently before the courts because of corruption. Former president Jaume Matas, however, is already in jail after being condemned for corruption the case “Palma Arena”.

El Govern pagó 1’2 millones de euros por el anteproyecto y posteriormente abonó 120.000 euros por dos maquetas y 80.000 euros por un video promocional. Sin embargo, el proyecto y las maquetas eran exactamente las mismas que doce años antes había elaborado para la ópera deZurich, proyecto que había sido desestimado.



With claims that the ‘emblematic’ Opera Palace would ‘de-seasonalise’ tourism on the island, Calatrava was paid 1.2 million euros for the pre-project presentation design – money paid out of taxpayers’ pockets, where the hidden agenda of gaining votes was lost on few.

While some criticism was made at the time, it exploded a few weeks ago when it emerged that Calatrava designed the project in 1989 for Zurich, to be built on Lake Lucerne, as a submission for a competition to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation. Judging by the models of the two projects – the Swiss and the Mallorcan – the only difference is in functionality and an extra: in Zurich, the building was imagined to float on the lake and its use would be versatile, while in Palma the structure was envisaged to emerge from the ocean, would house an opera and had an additional commercial and recreational zone.


verantwoordelijke politici herinneren zich ineens niets meer:

el señor Calatrava tiene libertad para fijar el precio que crea conveniente, la falta es de quien acepta pagar algo así”. Y ese fue el aludido Fiol, que ahora echa balones fuera: “Yo me limité a ejecutar el mandato del consejo de Gobierno. Lo digo con la conciencia bien tranquila. No he hecho nada ilegal. Estoy tranquilo al 100%. La primera noticia que tengo de que el proyecto no era original la he leído en su diario”, afirmaba ayer Fiol.

Más debía saber Flaquer. No en vano, en 2007 llegó a afirmar que el proyecto se le había encargado un año antes a Santiago Calatrava. Ayer no recordaba los detalles. “No tengo ni idea de todo eso”, se limitaba a afirmar

Pero Fiol dice que tampoco sabe nada: ni de la antigüedad del proyecto, ni de que lo único que recibiese el Govern de Calatrava fuese una maqueta y un vídeo. Tampoco quedan claras las razones por las que los 1,2 millones que se le abonaron a un sociedad suiza a nombre de Calatrava salieran del Ibisec, una empresa pública cuya función exclusiva era construir centros educativos.

Calatrava no trajo plano. No existen. No entregó nada más que un vídeo de tres minutos y una maqueta en miniatura por la que se pagaron 80.000 euros. Por lo que los 1,2 millones tuvieron que ser para pagar la presentación de Calatrava del proyecto durante la campaña electoral de 2007, un acto que no llegó a celebrarse porque la junta electoral lo consideró un acto de partido. Y si era un acto de partido, esos 1,2 millones nunca deberían haber salido del Govern: tendría que haberlos pagado el PP.

Calatrava over de palma arena: In June 2007, Calatrava stated that the Opera House ‘is a gift for citizens’ and said that the ‘only driving force’ that led him to design the structure was his ‘profound affection and great respect’ for Palma.

Over hetzelfde ontwerp maar dan in zurich had calatrava óók gezegd dat het zo geweldig bij de omgeving paste, de omgeving van het bergachtige meer van luzern of de middellandse zee is zo verschillend, de enige overeenkomst is dat ze beide nat zijn:

Yet in an issue dedicated to Calatrava in 1992 reviewing his main designs to date, the prestigious international architecture magazine El Croquis noted of Zurich’s concrete pavilion, in what appears to be Calatrava’s words: ‘our intention was to establish a dialogue between a fine harmonic form made of modern materials and the most beautiful mountain and lake landscapes in the centre of Switzerland’. Landscapes very different to the hot and humid Mediterranean of Mallorca. Apart from not recognising the real genesis of the project, the Valencian architect made off with 1.2 million euros for a three-minute video and a model of the proposed iconic Opera House (the latter with its own 80,000 euro price tag). No plans were presented – and none actually exist.









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