Last May, Spain’s Teatro Real received the 2021 International Opera Award 2021 for the world’s Best Opera Theatre, reaffirming its position as an international leader in its field. Its success has inspired us to cross the Atlantic and learn about some of the most important theatres in Latin America: the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile, the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Quito and the Municipal Theater Enrique Buenaventura in Cali.
1 Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires
The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is one of the jewels of the Argentine capital – considered one of the world’s best theatres due to its exceptional acoustics and architecture. It opened on 25 May 1908 with Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, Aida. The eclectic 8,202sqm building is located in the city centre between Cerrito, Viamonte, Tucumán and Libertad Streets. It runs its own workshops for producing shows and is home to the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra and the Colón Theater Ballet. All the great artists and composers of the past 100 years have graced its stage, from Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky to Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti.
2 Teatro Municipal de Santiago
This Neoclassical building was designed by the architect Francisco Brunet des Baines and has been declared a National Monument. It opened on 17 September 1857 with another opera by Verdi: Ernani. It is the country’s oldest cultural centre and one of its largest artistic spaces. Located in the historic centre of Santiago at 794 Agustinas Street, its main room holds 1,500 spectators, who can enjoy works of opera, ballet, chamber music, theatre and symphonic concerts. It is home to the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santiago Ballet, the Teatro Municipal Chorus and a Performing Arts Documentation Centre. World-famous artists have also performed here, such as the violinist Isaac Stern, singers Ramón Vinay and Plácido Domingo, the dancers Alicia Alonso and Anna Pavlova.
3 Teatro Nacional Sucre in Quito
The Teatro Nacional Sucre opened with a performance by the French pianist Captain Louis Voyer on 25 November 1886, making this building one of the continent’s oldest opera theatres. Designed by the German architect Francisco Schmidt in a Neoclassical style, it’s located in the historical centre of Ecuador’s capital on Manabí Street, between Guayaquil and Flores. Its name is a tribute to Antonio José Francisco de Sucre y Alcalá, a national hero of the country. The building emerged as a symbol of the city’s progress, and today is still one of its architectural icons.
4 Municipal Theater Enrique Buenaventura
Previously known as the Cali Municipal Theater, this was declared a national monument in 1982 and named after the famous Colombian playwright Enrique Buenaventura. It is located in the historic heart of this Colombian city at Carrera 5. Designed in the Italian classical style, its striking yellow façade seems to illuminate the surrounding streets. It opened on 30 November 1927 with Verdi’s opera, Il Trovatore. The building has seats for 1,021 spectators and is home to performances of opera, classical ballet, contemporary dance, music and theatre.