Browse: Teatro Colon

Teatro Colon

Splendid old opera house in Buenos Aires

NEW UPDATE: After almost 4 years of renovations, the Teatro Colon reopened its doors, as expected, on the 25th May 2010. Tickets are now available either at their ticket office, or buying online through TUENTRADA.COM using the following link: Buy Teatro Colon Tickets Online Here for Opera, Ballet, other Concerts & Guided Tours (after purchase you will still need to collect the tickets from the ticket office from 2 hours to 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the show). The tickets website is currently only working in Spanish, so if your Spanish is not so great, you can use Google Translate.

Teatro Colon

(Original post written October 25th 2006, since edited)

Before it closed for renovations, I took the opportunity to take in a performance at the Teatro Colon (Colon Theater) which many say is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Buenos Aires, as one of the most famous opera houses in the world.

I had been prompted to get along to the Colon by the fact that it was closing for reconstruction work at the end of October 2006, with original plans to reopen on May 25, 2008, the 100th anniversary of the opening of the theater. However, in the end the renovations took almost twice as long as expected, and so the Teatro Colon instead reopened on May 25th 2010, the 200th anniversary of the May Revolution, when Argentina split from the Spanish to become an independent nation.

It was a long wait until the re-opening, and knowing Argentina and it’s reputation for tardiness, I correctly doubted works would be completed on time, so it was important for me to check the legendary theater out before the prospect of a long wait.

The Concert

My companions and I saw a concert from the Camerata Bariloche orchestra, playing pieces from Strauss and Beethoven, which was all very pleasing to the ears (I have to admit I’m not much of a classical music fan), but the star of the show was of course the venue itself, which was resplendent in its rich scarlet and gold decoration, along with several forests worth of beautiful wooden construction that make up the auditorium, with hints of Italian, Greek, German and French Renaissance design. And that was before the renovations, when it was looking a little tatty. The place is now back in pristine condition.

It’s all very impressive when you are looking down, way, way down, from above, in the ‘Paradise’ (‘Paraiso’ – the 7th and final seating level) area, which are the cheapest tickets in the house, but still offer an interesting view and due to the famed acoustics of the Colon, it sounds great from wherever you are sat.

Teatro Colon Buenos Aires

For the record, I turned up in smart shoes, trousers, a shirt and tie, taking note of the dress code I saw in the ticket office earlier that day. I was easily the most over dressed person in the ‘Paraiso’ area – but in the more expensive areas I did see some well dressed ladies and gentleman. I think in reality you could go along dressed as you please – I saw quite a few people in jeans and t shirts.

Colon Theatre

Some Teatro Colon History

The famous venue is not without some interesting history. It opened in 1908, almost 20 years after the first cornerstone was laid in 1889, under the direction of architect Francesco Tamburini. You might understand why I thought the recent restorations may not be completed on time when I tell you that the theatre was originally due to be opened in 1892!

But to be fair, a series of tragedies did complicate the process. Tamburini died soon after construction started, and his friend Vittorio Meano took over the project. Who also promptly died (murdered in a love triangle ‘gone wrong’ – though actually I’m not sure if there are many love triangles that ‘go right’). The architects were followed to the grave by another Italian guy, Angelo Ferrari (assassinated), that had been partly funding the building works. Italians dropping like flies…

Fortunately, a Belgian, Julio Dormal, came in and finished the job, breathing a sigh of relief as the finishing touches were made without event. This further confirmed my feeling that Belgians are in fact some of the greatest people on this planet, not only producing the best beer in the world and some of the finest chocolate, but also bucking architectural death trends without batting an eyelid. And that’s not to mention the waffles! I used to drink to Dormal and his kind whenever I could (sadly no Belgian beer) inside another of his many BA constructions, the Confiteria Richmond cafe, on pedestrian Florida Street (near Lavalle), but sadly that classic cafe closed to the public in 2011.

The Colon Finally Opens…

But back to the theatre. It finally opened on 25 May 1908 with a performance of Verdi’s Aida, and never looked back, as it became one of the world’s premiere centers of opera. Over the years the Teatro Colon has hosted such musical greats as Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, French opera singer Jane Bathori, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, Greek soprano Maria Callas, the legendary Luciano Pavarotti, Argentine Tango bandoneon maestro Astor Piazzolla and even Weird Al Yankovic. OK, I made that last one up, but it would have been interesting.

Colon Theatre Buenos Aires

Previous Colon Theater

There was actually a Colon theatre before the current one, as noted by Jeff Barry in his blog. It had opened in 1857 on the edge of Plaza de Mayo, and served Argentine aristocracy well for a good many years until the current Colon was opened in 1908. These days in the old Colon location you’ll find the the Banco de la Nacion – the national bank of Argentina, an imposing structure that looks down upon the tourists that buzz round the Pink House.

Teatro Colon Stage

Perfect Acoustics

The current theatre, located in the City Center (in the unofficial sub-barrio of Tribunales) and visible from Avenue 9 de Julio, has virtually perfect acoustics. This is one of its main attractions, the sound reaching each and every audience member perfectly – so you can save money and still enjoy the concert, even if the orchestra do look like musical ants from the loftier vantage points.

If that doesn’t sound like a nice visual experience, you can always take in the music while staring at the beautiful surroundings, such as the decoration around the top of the stage, the huge, dazzling chandelier, or the ceiling frescoes that surround it. Though sadly the latter are not original, due to damage caused by damp in the 1930s. Instead they were painted in 1966 by famous Argentine muralist Raul Soldi, whose work can also be found on the ceiling of the wonderful Galerias Pacifico shopping center, on Florida street (on the corner of Avenida Cordoba).

Teatro Colon Verdict

I very much recommend that any visitor to Buenos Aires pay a visit to the Teatro Colon – especially now that this great attraction has been restored to its former glory. If you don’t have the chance to catch a show there, then you can always go for a guided tour of the building during the daytime, for which tickets can be bought through the Tu Entrada website (click on Visitas Guiadas), or by visiting the theater in person when you get to Buenos Aires. They run on the hour, every hour, in English, from 9am to 5pm.

Or if you are really tight for time, the Teatro Colon is still there on Avenida 9 de Julio (although that is the back, go around onto Plaza Lavalle for the front view) to be appreciated from the outside, and that’s not such a bad view in itelf…

Exterior of the Teatro Colon

For more detailed information on the Teatro Colon, check out the history section of the official Colon website. And of course, Wikipedia is always good.

Location of Teatro Colon

Teatro Colon, Cerrito 628, Tribunales (City Center)

Telephone: (54-11) 4378-7109

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Comments

17 Responses to “Teatro Colon”

  1. Willie on October 29th, 2006 5:58 am

    GREAT POST about Colon Teathre!

    Really ,in opinion of the best critics relative to erudit and classical music , the Colon T. is the most important lyric theatre of the world and one of three best symphonic theatres of the world.

    thankS, your content is wonderful

    [Reply]

  2. john on October 30th, 2006 9:40 pm

    Enjoyed your comments on Colon Teathre.
    Any ideas on how i can book tickets for the reopening concert in May 2008(or whenever!!)

    [Reply]

  3. Alan Patrick on October 31st, 2006 12:27 am

    Hi Willie! Thanks for the nice comments, its good to get some positive feedback from readers :-) (hint, hint silent majority!)

    Hello John. A very interesting question. They are supposed to be presenting “Aida”, as the first performance did back on May 25th 1908, 100 years previous. Nice touch. I will look into that as soon as possible and post here about it when I know.

    [Reply]

  4. Alan Patrick on November 2nd, 2006 1:58 pm

    John:

    Well, I spoke to the Colon ticket office today and got the expected reply…wait until late 2007 or early 2008. So I suggest you call them around that time (see their website for contact details), or ask me or someone else to help you out then.

    I asked if it would be difficult for members of the general public to get tickets for the opening performance and they said no…as long as you are first in line!

    [Reply]

  5. Amy chen on November 3rd, 2006 4:27 pm

    Could you tell me about the Orchestra Pit?

    [Reply]

  6. Alan Patrick on November 3rd, 2006 5:01 pm

    Amy:

    I am not an expert in that area, so I am going to have to resort to quoting from the Teatro Colon website…

    “Facing the curtain, and at a lower level, is the orchestra pit with a capacity for 120 musicians. The pit has been treated with a resonance chamber and special curves to reflect the sound. It is because of these characteristics, and the architectural proportions and quality of materials employed in its construction, that Colon Theatre enjoys exceptional acoustics, world-wide re-known for perfection.”

    http://www.teatrocolon.org.ar/English/history.htm

    I hope that is of some use. Was there anything in particular you wanted to know about the Orchestra pit at the Teatro Colon?

    [Reply]

  7. karen dias alves on January 21st, 2007 9:42 am

    Me gustava saber se tiene algun balet se apresentando no teatr colon nos dias 27 e 28 de januari 2007.

    [Reply]

  8. Bienvenido Alday IV on June 19th, 2007 12:22 pm

    Hola! I’m from Philippines and I was searching for Argentina especially the city of Buenos Aires. This site is very cool — a lot of important information and up-to-date contents on every page I have visited. Thanks anyway for the author/publisher of this site. I hope I can visit this wonderful place one day…

    [Reply]

  9. Alan Patrick on June 21st, 2007 4:32 pm

    Hi there Bienvenido Alday IV!

    Thanks for the nice comments about my site. I try my best :) It is good to know I have readers all of the world, including the Philippines.

    Alan

    PS – To the previous commenter, Karen Dias Alves, there are no performances actually at the Teatro Colon right now – it is closed for refurbishment until May 25th 2008.

    [Reply]

  10. talita on August 7th, 2007 5:59 pm

    Hey, congrats for the blog! I’m brazilian, going to BsAs for the third time, and still learning, still researching… The first time I was there, I went on a tour inside the theater and the “talleres” – the backstage, actually underground… very nice indeed. Could you check and see if that’s gonna be closed too or not? ‘Cause that’s a good tip too ;)

    [Reply]

  11. Jeremy on October 25th, 2007 10:07 am

    Hi. Any news on tickets for the opening on 25 May?
    We would love to go but can’t find any info yet.

    [Reply]

  12. Aki Themis on July 28th, 2008 5:17 am

    Reading anything about Buenos Aires and Argentina is pleasant.
    I have never had the opportunity to visit the city but ever since I was a child I
    have been dreaming of beinbg there. The reason: beautiful music like Adios Pampa Mia, Adios Muchachos and Los Tres Caballeros. Viva Argentina

    [Reply]

  13. SL SHERMAN on October 6th, 2008 7:31 am

    DO U KNOW OF ANY CONCERTS, BALLET OPERA PERFORMANCES IN BA DURING JAN 17-19 INCLUSIVE?

    [Reply]

  14. earl joyner on July 1st, 2012 2:27 pm

    Having trouble buying tickets on line for July.

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks for your comment. What problems are you having exactly?

    Lack of ticket availability? Language issues? Technical problems with the Teatro Colon website? Or something else? Is there any performance in particular you are trying to buy tickets for?

    If you give me more info perhaps I can help.

    All the best,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  15. Bira Rabushka on December 20th, 2013 12:37 pm

    I am a professional violinist who will be visiting Buenos Aires from Mar.6 to the 12th. I am eager to visit your wonderful theater and hope there will be a performance at that time. Please send me any information.
    Thank you!
    Bira Rabushka

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hello Bira,

    Thanks for your comment. You can find information about performances at the Teatro Colon on their official website:

    http://www.teatrocolon.org.ar/en/

    I hope you get a chance to enjoy the theater. If you are unable to attend a performance, bear in mind that they offer guided tours of the theater every day too.

    All the best,

    Alan

    [Reply]

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