The Colon Theater of Buenos Aires is one of the most important opera houses of the world. Its rich and prestigious track record and the exceptional acoustic and architectural features of its building place it at the level of theaters such as La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opera, the Vienna State Opera, London's Covent Garden and the Metropolitan NY.
In its first headquarters, the Teatro Colón functioned from 1857 to 1888, the year it was closed for the construction of a new room. It was inaugurated on May 25, 1908 with a function of Aida.
In its beginnings, the Colón hired for its seasons to foreign companies; from 1925 he had his own stable bodies -Orchestra, Ballet and Choir- and their own production workshops, which allowed him, the 1930s, organize their own seasons funded by the budget of the city. Since then, the Teatro Colón has been defined as a theater of season or stagione with the capacity to carry out the entirety of an entire production thanks to the professionalism of their specialized scenographic bodies.
Antecedents of the musical activity in Buenos Aires
The Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires is one of the most important opera houses of the world. Its rich and prestigious history, the exceptional acoustic and architectural features of its building place it at the level of theaters such as La Scala of Milan, the Paris Opera, the Vienna State Opera, London's Covent Garden and Metropolitan of New York.
In its first opera house, the Teatro Colón functioned from 1857 to 1888, year in which it closed to start the construction of a new building. The current location was inaugurated on May 25, 1908 with the performance of Aida.
In its beginnings, the Colón used to hire foreign companies for its programming. In 1925 it started having its own permanent companies -Orchestra, Ballet and Choir- and scenographic workshops which allowed, in the 1930s, developing its own productions funded by the city's budget. Since then, the Teatro Colón has been defined as a season theater or stagione with the capacity to carry out a whole production thanks to the professionalism of their specialized scenographic bodies.
Building dimensions, characteristics, expansions and renovations
The Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires city is considered one of the best theaters in the world. Recognized for its acoustics and for the artistic value of its construction, its current building turned 100 years old in 2008. Located between the streets of Cerrito, Viamonte, Tucumán and Libertad, in the heart of the city of Buenos Aires, it was inaugurated on May 25, 1908 with the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
This building replaces the old Teatro Colón built in front of the Plaza de Mayo where today stands the Banco Nación. The construction of the new building took around 20 years, its foundation stone was placed on May 25, 1890, with the intention of inaugurating it before October 12, 1892 coinciding with the fourth centenary of the discovery of America. The initial project belonged to the architect Francesco Tamburini and, upon his death in 1891, it was continued and modified by his partner, the architect Víctor Meano, author of the palace of the National Congress. The works advanced until 1894, but then stagnated for financial reasons. In 1904, after the death of Meano, the government commissioned the Belgian Jules Dormal to complete the work. Dormal introduced some structural modifications and definitely left his stamp on the French style decoration.
At the end of 1907, the first lease of the Teatro Colón was signed, although the works of completion of the building were delayed in relation to the date set for the inauguration of the hall, on May 25, 1908. In any case, in that date was the first opera performed in the main hall of the Theater by the Great Italian Lyric Company, although with some unfinished spaces of the building such as the Golden Hall and the iron canopies on Libertad and Cerrito streets.
The Teatro Colón produces its shows from scratch in its own workshops located in the basements. In 1938 the basement was expanded under the lateral square on Arturo Toscanini Street, and a tunnel was built to connect the workshops. That same year, the following workshops were created: Machinery, Scenography, Props, Tailoring, Shoemaking, Tapestry, Set Mechanics, Sculpture, Photography, Makeup and Hairstyling.
In 1963, the Props Decoration and Costume Painting workshop was created. From 1968 to 1972, a second expansion was directed by architect Mario Roberto Álvarez under the park and Cerrito Street. That is the where the artistic production sectors, scenography workshops, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices and a staff canteen function. The technical area of Production Design and the Lighting Technology, Mechanical Special Effects and Audio and Video workshops were incorporated later on. In 2000 the Executive Branch of the City, through the Subsecretary of Cultural Heritage, called on the General Direction of Infrastructure to create a "Master Plan" to raise the value of the building and update the technology of the stage.
Artists who have performed on its stage
The number of artists who have performed in the theatre since it opened in 1908 is huge. Their performances on this stage have shaped its great musical tradition and a world-renowned prestige. The list includes composers such as Richard Strauss, Arthur Honegger, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Camille Saint-Saëns, Manuel de Falla, Aaron Copland, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Héctor Panizza, Juan José Castro, Gerardo Gandini and Mauricio Kagel. Different generations of conductors performed in this hall, like Arturo Toscanini, Erich Kleiber, Fritz Busch, Ernest Ansermet, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Tulio Serafin, Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Karl Böhm, Fernando Previtali, Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Michel Corboz, Riccardo Chailly, Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, René Jacobs and the Argentinians Daniel Barenboim, Gabriel Garrido and Miguel Ángel Veltri, among others.
The long list of singers includes, among thousands of names, the tenors Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Lauritz Melchior, Mario del Monaco, Richard Tucker, Wolfgang Windgassen, Alfredo Kraus, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, the sopranos Claudia Muzio, Lily Pons, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Kirsten Flagstad, Victoria de los Ángeles, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson, Montserrat Caballé, Eva Marton, Kiri Te Kanawa, Katia Ricciarelli, Mirella Freni, June Anderson and Renée Fleming, the mezzo-sopranos Fedora Barbieri, Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza, Christa Ludwig, Régine Crespin, Frederica von Stade, Waltraud Meier and Cecilia Bartoli, the baritones Titta Ruffo, Leonard Warren, Hans Hotter Cornell MacNeil, Hermann Prey, Sherrill Milnes, José van Dam and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and the bass Fiodor Chaliapin, Borís Christoff, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Samuel Ramey. Argentinian artists who have developed important international carreers have also sang at the Colón, such as Delia Rigal, Luis Lima, Raúl Giménez, Ana María González, Renato Cesari, Ricardo Cassinelli, Gian-Piero Mastromei, Ángel Mattiello, Carlo Cossutta, Carlos Guichandut, Cecilia Díaz, Paula Almerares, Marcelo Álvarez, José Cura, Darío Volonté and Virginia Tola.
Among the biggest names of the dance who have performed in the Colón stand out Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev, Alicia Alonso, Maya Plisetskaya, Margot Fonteyn, Mijail Barishnikov, Vladimir Vassiliev, Antonio Gades and the Argentinians María Ruanova, Olga Ferri, Michel Borovsky, José Neglia, Norma Fontenla, Wasil Tupin, Esmeralda Agloglia, Jorge Donn, Julio Bocca, Maximiliano Guerra and Paloma Herrera.
Prestigious régisseurs have worked in our opera seasons, such as Ernst Poettgen, Margarita Wallmann, Otto Erhart, Cecilio Madanes, Roberto Oswald, Jorge Lavelli, Gilbert Defló, Nicolas Joel, Pier Luigi Pizzi and Hugo de Ana, along with prominent costume and set designers like Nicolas Benois, Paul Walter, Aníbal Lapiz, José Luciano Varona, Raúl Soldi, Guillermo Roux, Ezio Frigerio, Franca Squarciapino and Graciela Galán.
The world's leading orchestras have performed at the Teatro Colón, such as The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, The New York Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. Outstanding instrumental soloists have shined on our stage, like Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Paco De Lucía, Antonio De Raco, Nelson Freire, Bruno Gelber, Friedrich Gulda, Gidon Kremer, Alberto Lysy, David Oistrakh, Manuel Rego, Narciso Yepes, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ralph Votapek and Misha Maiski, among many others.
1908 to 1925
From 1908 to 1925, the Colón Theater was organized with the system of concessionary companies linked to the Municipality of Buenos Aires by contracts, which determined their artistic and financial obligations, and under the control of special commissions in which they tried to give representation to the subscribers. This system worked until the end of the First War, when the public demanded a repertoire that encompassed more than the Italian, the predominant of the concession companies.
In 1925 the Municipality of Buenos Aires created the stable bodies of the Teatro Colón-the Orchestra, the Choir, the Ballet and the technical staff-and for five years successive seasons of mixed exploitation took place (concessionaires-Municipality).
In 1931 the Buenosairean ediles decided to municipalize of definitive way to the Theater Columbus, in the form of public service, with own patrimony.
In 1937 the Opera School of the Colón Theater was created, which in 1960 was renamed the Higher Institute of Art of the Teatro Colón at the request of the masters Alberto Ginastera, Enrique Sivieri and Michel Borovsky. Fundamental instrument of the teaching task of the Theater, the Institute worked in different floors of the building, dictating the careers of Classical Dance, Lyric Song, Régie, Opera Musical Direction and Theatrical Characterization.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires, created in 1946, is incorporated into the permanent activities of the Colón Theater. Since 1950, it has offered concerts in this hall and participates in the shows of the Stable Ballet of the Teatro Colón.
The Municipality of Buenos Aires creates the Opera House of the Teatro Colón, formed its cast with some of the most notable singers of the house.
In this year the Teatro Colón is declared a "National Historical Monument".
In 1990, the Colón Theater Experimentation Center was created, in order to promote avant-garde artistic activities.
At the end of this year, the Colón Theater closes its doors to begin a process of conservative restoration, going on to carry out its activities in alternative halls of the City.
In 2008 the Buenosairean Legislature sanctions the Law of Autarky of the Theater Columbus that creates the Autarchic Entity Theater Columbus in the scope of the Government of the Independent City of Buenos Aires, with own legal personality, functional autonomy and financial autarky. Its mission is to "create, form, represent, promote and disseminate lyrical, choreographic, musical -symphonic and chamber music- and experimental, in its expression of excellence according to its historical tradition, within the framework of cultural policies of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires ".
Por decisión del Jefe de Gobierno Mauricio Macri, se concluyen las obras de restauración encaradas y el 24 de mayo de ese año, con la Dirección General y Artística es confiada a Pedro Pablo García Caffi, reabre el Teatro Colón con todo su esplendor con una función especial que incluyó el acto II la ópera La Bohème y el acto III de El lago de los cisnes. Ese mismo año la visita de la Orquesta y el Coro del Teatro alla Scala de Milán bajo la dirección de Daniel Barenboim alcanzó la cota más alta de las celebraciones por la reapertura a la comunidad de la gran sala argentina. Se crea el Abono Bicentenario, que convoca a artistas del mundo de la música de primer orden internacional.