Teatro Colón: Planning Your Visit

Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires

Robert Cutts.

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Teatro Colón

Address
Cerrito 628, C1010 CABA, Argentina
Phone +54 11 4378-7100

The grandiosity of Teatro Colón cannot be ignored. Whether you're walking past, zooming by in a taxi, or are one of the lucky ticket holders about to go to a show, the theater's white marble and lavish details demand admiration. It's ranked as one of the top opera venues in the world, often appearing on lists with the Palais Garnier in Paris, the Royal Opera House in London, and the Sydney Opera House.

Declared a historical monument by the Argentine government in 1989, the theater is a perfect representation and metaphor for the country that worked to build it. Teatro Colón offers a mix of French, German, and Italian-style architecture and design, built up with not just a little turmoil and scandal. One of the top places to visit in Buenos Aires, the building is renowned for both its aesthetics and acoustics.

History

The current building is actually the second Teatro Colón to exist. The first Teatro Colón stood in front of the Government House (Casa Rosada) between 1857 and 1888, but was replaced when it could not accommodate the shows and audiences of its day.

The current theater took some twenty years to construct. Its cornerstone was placed on May 25, 1890, with hopes to inaugurate the theater tow years later for the anniversary of the fourth centennial of the discovery of the Americas. However, the main architect, Italian Francesco Tamburini, died suddenly in 1891. His replacement, Vittorio Meano, was rumored to have been involved in a love triangle and later shot in his home. Belgian architect Jules Dormal finally finished the project but not until almost two decades later. On May 25, 1908, the inaugural performance of Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" was performed.

Many decades of performance later, the theater was in need of repairs and renovations. After a few starts and stops, the theater was closed in November of 2006 with plans to re-open in May 2008 for the theater's 100th birthday. However, the project grew in budget and scope and finally re-opened on May 24, 2010, in time for the celebration of Argentina's bicentennial. Although there was much strife involved in the renovations, including worker strikes and protests, the final result is breathtaking.

Highlights

The theater is seven stories and covers an entire block, offering more than can be seen in just one take. The architectural style is eclectic since it was started by an Italian architect who died before it was finished and then taken over by a Belgian architect who added some French touches.

While the exterior alone is magnificent, the inside is even more stunning. The theater's foyer continues to impress with gilded pieces, marble columns, dramatic statues, and stained glass from around the world. Since Europe was a leader in design at the time the theater was built, many of the interior pieces were imported from abroad, such as two lion statues carved from Portuguese marble, stained glass windows made in Paris, and an elaborate mosaic floor that came from Venice.

In the style of 19th century Europe, the auditorium takes the shape of an elongated horseshoe. A giant chandelier is at the center of the auditorium and casts light upon the golds and reds of the upholstery, carpets, curtains, and trim. The chandelier also draws the eyes to the ceiling, which was hand-painted by Argentine artist Raul Soldi. The painting depicts characters of the "Commedia dell' Arte" and includes mimes, goblins, actors, dancers, and musicians all interacting in a fantastical scene above.

Visiting Teatro Colón

  • Location: Teatro Colón is located in the heart of Buenos Aires in the Microcentro neighborhood. It's the commercial center of the city and nearby other important landmarks, so chances are you'll come across it without even trying. It's between the streets Cerrito, Viamonte, Tucumán, and Libertad.
  • Shows/Tickets: International opera stars perform at the Teatro Colón as well as renowned ballet companies. You can buy tickets directly on the venue's webpage, but they often sell out shortly after going on sale. There's also a box office at the theater where you can inquire about same-day tickets.
  • Tours: Getting tickets for a show isn't always possible, but you can still appreciate the inside of the building on a guided tour. Tours take place seven days a week between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and last about 50 minutes. They are available in Spanish and English.
  • Visitor Tip: There's a discount on guided tours if you arrive before 11 a.m. or after 3:30 p.m.

Getting There

Moving around congested Buenos Aires can be a headache, but Teatro Colón is centrally located and easy to reach. If you're staying in the city center, you can likely get there on foot, but if you're coming from another part of the city it's conveniently located off the Buenos Aires subway. The D line of the subway has a Teatro Colón stop that is just a few minutes from the theater, but the B and C lines also have stops that aren't far away (Carlos Pellegrini and Lavalle, respectively).

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The Spectacular Teatro Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires