The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina, built in 1910, is world renowned, and has showcased the stars of the opera world over the course of it’s history: Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas – and more. All have all performed at the legendary Teatro Colón. Coming off of a 10 year, $100 million (USD) renovation, which saw the Opera house shuttered completely for four years from 2006-2010, the century old Opera House shines its brilliance once again.
After a false start a couple of months ago when I tried to take the tour ($110 pesos/$25 USD), and was told the stage would not be seen on the tour due to a performance taking place that afternoon, I deferred my tour until my next trip to Buenos Aires. After such extensive renovations, done in three stages, I wanted to get the full tour. The acoustically perfect performance stage had been overhauled to pitch perfection; I did not want to miss this vital part of the renovations, and heart of the opera house.
Our group’s tour guide, Carla, was informative and engaging. Standing in the intermission hallway, under busts of Mozart, Bellini, Bizet, Beethoven, she burst into operatic stiletto, smiling wirily at our surprise. (She is a student at the School of Opera, and all tour leaders attend the school). Carla exhibited a cultural pride that floated on her words of the history and romance that is part of the Teatro Colón opera house.
Underneath the four busts is the sinewy marble statue, “The Secret”. Two fingers of Venus were broken off somewhere along the way in the transport to Argentina from Italy (where the exquisite statue was carved on commission), and having been shaped from one single piece of marble, consequently the broken fingers were not to be replaced So fine is the attention to detail, Cupid’s hand shows a soft, indented impression on his mother’s thigh, as he leans up to whisper in her ear. Cupid is telling his mother a secret: whose heart he is going to shoot his bow of love through during intermission, as elegantly dressed men and women stand nearby, sipping champagne.
Four different marbles, ranging in colors from gold to copper to rust to dark green, resonate throughout the interiors. The Gold Hall, painted in 18K and 24 K gold, also used during intermission, hosts chamber concerts, and was modeled after the interior of Versailles’s Hall of Mirrors, embellished with furnishings from Paris. Students who are to perform for the first time on stage must first present themselves in concert in The Gold Hall.
Again the pride from our tour guide as she swished back the red velvet curtains to the entrance for the concert hall. Sultry Argentine beauty, red velvet saturation, turn of the 19th century, Dr. Zhivago, all rolled into one as we walked in to sit in the patrons chairs. Concert boxes for the President and Mayor of Argentina, and Buenos Aires, respectively, were opposite us. The VIP box at mezzanine level where we were gathered, and which is sold to ticket holders (the public) for $1500 pesos, is identified with the Coat of Arms of Argentina at the front. Our lucky day as a ballet performance was rehearsing.
The influence of Milan’s La Scala and Paris’s Opera House is evident throughout, yet Teatro Colón shines as its own beauty, especially at night, reveling in its status as one of the top five opera houses in the world.