Buenos Aires's golden age of prosperity gave birth to this luxurious opera house. It's one of the crowning visual delights of Avenida 9 de Julio, though its true entrance faces a park on the opposite side of the building. Over the years, the theater has been graced by the likes of Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Julio Bocca, Maria Callas, Plácido Domingo, Arturo Toscanini, and Igor Stravinsky. Work began in 1880 and took close to 18 years to complete, largely because the first two architects died during the building process. The majestic building opened in 1908 and combines a variety of European styles, from the Ionic and Corinthian capitals and stained-glass pieces in the main entrance to the Italian marble staircase and French furniture, chandeliers, and vases in the Golden Hall. In the main theater -- which seats 3,000 in orchestra seats, stalls, boxes, and four rises -- an enormous chandelier hangs from the domed ceiling painted by Raúl Soldi in 1966 during a previous renovation. The theater's acoustics are world-renowned. In addition to hosting visiting performers, the Colón has its own philharmonic orchestra, choir, and ballet company. Opera and symphony seasons last from February to late December.
Unfortunately, while the building represents the glory of Argentina's golden period, its current renovation represents everything that is wrong with Argentina today. A multimillion-dollar renovation was announced to much fanfare in 2004, with plans to finish by May 25, 2008 -- its 100th anniversary -- for a revival of Aida, the opera's first production. As of this writing, the building remains in scaffolding, unfinished, its interior partly exposed to the elements because windows have been removed. Without pointing any fingers, somehow much of the money went missing and the building is certainly not in a state to function in any capacity. Rumor has it that some of the opera's extensive collection of props and outfits has also been pilfered. Work should be completed by 2010, according to a new schedule, but no work appears to be in progress at the time of this writing. Hourly guided tours, currently suspended, would allow you to view the main theater, backstage, and costume and underground stage-design workshops. These had taken place between 11am and 3pm weekdays, and from 9am to noon Saturday. Call tel. 11/4378-7130 for more information and to see if any tours will eventually take place, which depends on the progress, if any, of the renovation. As of this writing, the ticket office is only intermittently open, but performances that would ordinarily take place here are scattered in other venues throughout the city. The website, www.teatrocolon.org.ar, may provide more information in the future, but is itself not currently up to date. For those who love Buenos Aires, and love opera, what has happened to Teatro Colón is a tragedy worthy of a production itself.
- © Frommer's 2013
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Ask Buenos Aires Locals about Teatro Colón --Opera & Ballet
- Very Highly Recommended 2010