Teatro Colon Tour shares the history of the famous Buenos Aires Opera House, presents facts from behind the scenes and reveals the love story of Marcelo Alvear - the love that started there....
Teatro Colon: Tickets Info
Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the gallery of pictures.
The best tickets for premiers with famous international stars can go for as much as $1000 US.
But few days later you can get them for $200 to $300 US for the same performance with local artists (do not take me wrong, they are also very talented - in most cases the main difference is just the lack of internationally recognized name).
But do not be scared – you will also find tickets for as little as $10 - $20US in less “prestigious” seats not mentioning the fact that for the standing places in Paradaiso galleries tickets usually go for 10 to 30 AR pesos ($3 to $7.5 US).
The theatrical season starts from early April and ends in last days of November. This is quite unfortunate for those visiting Buenos Aires during the raging winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
As a consolation – you can take the guided tour of the complex (actually this is one of these “must-to-do” when in Buenos) at the cost of 60 AR pesos (as of January 2011).
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Upper level can be visited during the tour of the theater, however taking pictures is not permitted.
These provided here were taken through the upper level windows with the guide permission. I hope that what you can see gives you an idea about the richness of ornamentation and decoration of these rooms designed and furnished in French style.
Teatro Colon: Behind the scenes
To improve the difficult financial situation during the recession of early 1930’s, the city of Buenos Aires converted the theater’s concert hall into the ballroom. To “ease” the impact of high summer temperatures tons of ice were stored along the galleries. While ice greatly helped the situation on the floor, condensing humidity in the dome inadvertently deteriorated the ceiling’s murals. As the result - large chunks of original frescoes by Marcel Jambon dropped down. It was only in late 1960’s when the famous Argentinean muralist Raul Soldi re-painted dome with new frescoes.
True Love Story
Marcelo Alvear, a most eligible and handsome bachelor from an aristocratic family of the first mayor of Buenos Aires - Torcuato de Alvear, was well known for his dandy’s like lifestyle. But on the positive side - one of his passions was the theater. And it happened - he fell in love with a very young, but already internationally recognized Portuguese soprano - Regina Pacini when seeing her playing Rosina in Barber of Seville. Usually in such situations one would say – and the rest is a history….. well - not so fast in this case.
Despite few dozen of red and white roses and golden bracelet with diamonds send to her dressing room, the young Portuguese left for Europe. But this otherwise “dark scenario” did not discourage Marcelo. He simply embarked for the trip to Europe following his heart (and Regina) in the best theaters of Madrid, Paris, London, Monte Carlo, Budapest for the next four years.
Thousands of red and white roses were filling her dressing rooms inevitably helping to develop some kind of “liaison” between them. But the real braking point came when for one of her performances Marcelo bought all the tickets becoming the only spectator and admirer (one could say – she finally “noticed” him…..). The “Yes” came shortly after, however under the condition that she will pursue her carrier for four more years before the marriage (apparently at that time it was inconceivable for the high-society married women to work). Then now I can say - the rest is a history – very touching indeed.
In 1907 they happily married in Lisbon in a small private ceremony. Marcelo expressed his love for Regina filling her bridal suite with zillions of roses and – listen to this – he also arranged the phonograph playing the “L’Elisir d’amore” sung by Regina. For those “less informed” let me mention that the aria “Una furtive lagrima” from the opera Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti, is one of the most acclaimed and loved arias.
To me it was so thoughtful and touching, somehow more than his fabulous wedding gift (certainly affordable for an aristocrat): Coeur Volant - a Norman Castle near Paris. Its biggest room was converted to a miniature theater where during their years in France Regina was singing for only one person – her husband. Regina never had the chance to perform on the stage of Teatro Colon (opened year later), but throughout the years they both were continuously supporting this prestigious institution.
Marcelo de Alvear later became one of the most successful and respected presidents of Argentina. He died of heart attack on March 23, 1942 at the age of 74, but that was not the end of the love story.
Regina survived him for 23 years during which on 23rd day of each month she was coming to the place of Marcelo’s rest in Recoleta with guess what - a large bouquet of red and white roses. She was seen seating for long hours inside the vault. Observers often noticed her eyes in tears and moving lips – as if whispering words of love….
What the love story - if not deserving the privacy of those concerned - I would say: what started in the theater should end on the stage as well. Who will take the task of writing the libretto and a musical notes? Something that can measure up to the famous “Don’t cry for me Argentina”….?
In late 40’s Juan Peron (then the president of Argentina) in an unprecedented decision made the Teatro Colon available each Monday at low cost for working class.
Certainly this was under a strong influence of Evita well known for her charitable activity and theatrical past. But the bottom line is – at that time for many (not only financial) reasons such prestigious cultural institution as Teatro Colon was not accessible for “lower layers of society".
It was really a revolutionary decision bringing its fruits till these days when the culture in a wide sense of this word, be it theater, opera, art, literature, shows including spontaneous dancing became omnipresent “on the streets” of Buenos.
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Visible details on the upper "museum" level Reception Hall.
Left - French crystal chandelier in the Golden Room (Salón Dorado)
Right - Sculpture in the Hall of Busts (Salón de los Bustos)
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Concert Hall - galleries. The last two levels called "Paradaiso" offer inexpensive standing places.
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Concert Hall - left: Allegorical ceiling frescoes painted by Raúl Soldi
Center: Main scene with decoration for the opera The Grand Macabre (El Gran Macabro). Music by György Ligeti, Libretto by György Ligeti and Michael Meschke inspired by La Ballade du Grand Macabre of Michel de Ghelderode.
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Concert Hall - Left: ceiling ornamentation next to the stage. You can see names of grand composers (here visible only Wagner, Chopin, Verdi, Haydn , Gounod...) memorized around the circumference of the dome.
I'm sure everybody found here on the pages of the Free Teatro Colon Tour in Pictures something interesting. Personally for me the "love Story" was very moving.....
And hopefully pictures convinced you that this is one of these places in Buenos Aires that you should visit and if possible see one of performances on the stage.
Good luck with tickets :-).
If you want to re-start the tour please select the link:
Teatro Colon - (previous)
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