Buenos Aires: the Colon Theatre – As soon as the curtain rises, you are in for one of the performances of your lifetime.
In this article I’d like to tell you more about my city: Buenos Aires. Us inhabitants of the city call ourselves “porteños” and we are proud to live in a city with such a vibrant cultural lifestyle. Almost every day of the week we can choose to attend activities and performances at theatres, cinemas, concert halls, stadiums, museums, cultural centres and the like.
A bit of historic background…
Porteños have always been full of pride about their city, and many say that Buenos Aires is the Paris of Latin America, it has been called like this because of the classic French architecture present in several of its buildings, especially around the downtown area. These were built between the end of the 19th century and the begging of the 20th century when the urban landscape of Buenos Aires went through a massive transformation. Street layout was changed to a grid style to mirror the one that was established in Paris a few years earlier. Great buildings were constructed to home the institutions of a republic that was being consolidated at the time. The Colon Theatre was one of the legendary buildings constructed during this time. Its construction started officially in 1890 and took 20 years. The story of its construction somewhat resembles an Opera because of the tragic deaths of the first two architects who were awarded the project who both died at exactly the same age: 44. Urban legends from the time talked about a curse and some even suggested demolishing the theatre halfway through its construction because of it. I’m so glad that those superstitions didn’t tend up being true and that the city can enjoy such a superb work of art.
The Colon Theatre has become an emblem of our city with its grandiose and eclectic style and is considered one of the best theatres of the world for its architectural beauty both on the outside and the inside and its unparalleled acoustics. Famous opera performer Luciano Pavarotti has been known to say that the acoustics of the Colon are both a blessing and a curse for a singer since any little mistake can be heard in all the theatre.
Visiting the Colon Theatre
Visiting the Colon can be separated in two diverse experiences: attending a performance or taking the guided tour, I must say I can’t recommend any of them enough.
If I had to choose just one, attending a performance would be the one. There is something about the place when it’s full that is simply magic. It sits 2.478 people and other 500 can be accommodated standing. Imagine all these people at the end of a performance giving a standing ovation! It simply gives you goosebumps. Standing ovations are extremely common at the Colon, the quality of the shows and the performers as well as the friendly Argentine audience assures their occurrence. Also, to see all those people flooding into the theatre at night is quite a sight in itself.
Once inside, you are professionally guided to your place by a team of ushers who are strategically placed within the theatre. Depending on your seating you’ll use a different entrance, and you might have to take the elevator and go up a few flights of stairs, which is in turn an experience in itself. This will depend on your budget, of course, the cheaper the ticket, the higher you’ll have to climb, but rest assured that whichever location you get, you’ll be able to see and hear the performance perfectly well. My favourite location is the “Tertulia”, which is about halfway up and tends to have reasonably priced tickets.
The proscenium arch and the majestic grand curtain are certainly impressive, with a width of 35.25 metres and a height of 48 metres. Another perk of being high up is that you can enjoy watching the orchestra tuning their instruments during the interval.
And if you look up…well… that’s definitely a sight to see. The interior of the dome was painted al fresco by the artist Raúl Soldi, who incidentally didn’t even charge for his work. On a surface of 318 square metres, there are 51 figures representing the scenic arts. These were painted on cloth and then carefuly placed onto the dome surface.
The chandelier in the middle is 7 metres in diameter and weighs 1300 kilograms, not to mention the massive number of lightbulbs!
As soon as the curtain rises, you are in for one of the performances of your life. You will be enthralled by the acoustics and the magic begins, everyone in the audience will be silent and carried away to the setting of the performance.
As to the guided tour… I’ll leave have that for part 2. (wait for it)
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