Thespians and theater enthusiasts have probably already added the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina to the list of places they must visit in their lifetime. This grand Argentinian theater is celebrated the world over and included in the 1000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day® calendar.
While the history of the building dates back to the early 20th century, the birth of the theater as an institution goes all the way back to the year 1857. The former building was located in Plaza de Mayo and served as the Teatro Colón’s home until 1888. Then, a hiatus filled with dramatic turns for the worse ensued for the next two decades! The untimely death of the lead architect. The murder of the new lead architect. Financial troubles. You name the problem, it befell the Teatro Colón.
With a little help from the Argentinean government, the institution prevailed and the saga of its new location finally drew to a close. On May 25, 1908, Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by the Great Italian Lyrical Company, became the first opera to debut upon its stage. Opera greats like Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso and Plácido Domingo have appeared on the stage since.
What does this gorgeous, much awaited building look like, you may be wondering? The stately white structure of many windows shines golden in the streetlights. Inside, you’ll find imported European wood, marble finishes, stained glass, a sweeping chandelier and frescos on the ceilings. (Photo credits above: Allison Meier, left, and Roger Schultz, right.)
The best thing about Teatro Colón’s building, however, is not what you can see, but what you can hear. In the orchestra pit, a resonance chamber and specially designed curves combine with the strategic architectural design of the hall to create extraordinary acoustics regarded internationally as “among the most perfect in the world.”
There are many ways to make the most of your visit to this destination. You can see an opera if you want the most traditional experience, but you can also visit for a ballet or other concert. For those short on time or uninterested in actually seeing a show, the Teatro offers guided tours of the building.
If you do snag tickets and are feeling a bit intimidated by opera because of a convoluted, difficult-to-decipher storyline, familiarize yourself with the plot beforehand so that you understand what’s going on. If the Teatro Colón happens to be showing an opera classic, The Black Dog Opera Library can be your personal guide. For Carmen, La Bohème, La Traviata, and The Marriage of Figaro, the set provides the audio CDs, English translation, history, story synopsis and more so that when the curtain is drawn, you’re able to follow the plot effortlessly.
Read on for more on 1000 Places to See Before You Die book and calendar line from Workman Publishing and Page-A-Day.