Main façade of the Amazon Theatre
|Elevation||92 m (302 ft)|
|Current tenants||Amazonas Philharmonic|
|Inaugurated||December 31, 1896|
|Design and construction|
|Owner||Amazonas State president|
The Amazon Theatre (Portuguese: Teatro Amazonas) is an opera house located in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. It is the location of the annual Festival Amazonas de Ópera (Amazonas Opera Festival) and the home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra who regularly rehearses and performs at the Amazon Theater along with choirs, musical concerts and other performances.
The Amazonas Theatre was built during the Belle Époque at a time when fortunes were made in the rubber boom. Construction of the Amazon Theatre was first proposed in 1881 by a member of the local House of Representatives, Antonio Jose Fernandes Júnior, who envisioned a "jewel" in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
In 1882, the State legislature approved some limited financing, but this was considered insufficient. Later that year, the president of the Province, José Lustosa Paranaguá, approved a larger budget and initiated a competition for the presentation of plans. The chosen project was made by the Gabinete Português de Engenharia e Arquitectura, an engineering and architecture office from Lisbon. By 1884, construction was ready to begin under the Italian architect Celestial Sacardim. Work proceeded slowly over the following fifteen years with some stops and restarts from 1885 to 1892.
By 1895, when the masonry work and exterior were completed, the decoration of the interior and the installation of electric lighting could begin more rapidly. The theatre was inaugurated on December 31, 1896, with the first performance occurring on January 7, 1897, with the Italian opera, La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli.
Architecture and style
The theatre's architectural style is considered typically Renaissance. The roofing tiles were imported from Alsace, the steel walls from England and the Carrara marble for the stairs, statues and columns, from Italy. The dome is covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the national flag of Brazil. The interior furnishing came from France in the Louis Quinze style. Italian artist Domenico de Angelis painted the panels that decorate the ceilings of the auditorium and of the audience chamber. The curtain, with its painting "Meeting of the Waters", was originally created in Paris by Crispim do Amaral. The theatre's 198 chandeliers were imported from Italy, including 32 of Murano glass.
In popular culture
- The theatre is featured in the film Fitzcarraldo directed by the German director Werner Herzog in 1982. At the beginning of the film, the opera-obsessed character Brian Sweeney "Fitzcarraldo" Fitzgerald makes his way to the opera house to hear Enrico Caruso sing in Verdi's Ernani. He arrives right at the end of the opera and there are scenes of the interior of house. While it is believed that the house was constructed to attract Caruso to perform at its opening, there is some doubt that he actually did perform there.
- It is featured twice in novels by Eva Ibbotson: Journey to the River Sea and A Company of Swans. Both are adventure stories set principally in the city of Manaus (where the theatre is situated) and surroundings in 1912. In the former (children's) book a visiting acting group performs the play, Little Lord Fauntleroy at the theatre, which is briefly described. In the latter (young adult) novel a visiting ballet troupe performs Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker and La Fille Mal Gardee at the theatre.
- Author and naturalist Sy Montgomery gives a historical account of the building of the theater in her 2001 book, "Journey of the Pink Dolphins".
- The theatre was featured in Ann Patchett's 2011 novel, "State of Wonder".
- Teatro Amazonas Official website of the Amazonas Department of Culture. (Portuguese).
- Amazon Theatre Gallery of 19 photos of the Amazon Theatre by Jorge Vismara
- Amazon Theatre Gallery of 26 photos of the Amazon Theatre by Vagamundos